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January/February 2014 Issue 69

Bumps & Babes Education News

Confidence Building Fun Try a Free Drama Class

Thames Valley West

New Year, New You Watch your child’s self-esteem soar with our weekly classes for 4–12s Child development is at the heart of everything we do. So our drama, dance and singing sessions will boost your child’s confidence, improve their concentration and give them an outlet to have fun. Call 0845 400 1283 or visit for a free class at your nearest venue.

HENLEY • READING • WOKINGHAM • BRACKNELL • NEWBURY Your local guide to what to do and where to go with the children in 2014

Look out for lots of great activities to keep your children fit, healthy and on the move in RG12 Football training for under 7s who are nuts about football Get your midfield dynamo enjoying super-skills, fun & exercise CRB checked & FA qualified coaches Training sessions, courses & parties across London 020 7937 7965 The fun starts from 18 months!


Franchise Opportunities

Britain’s leading National Physical Play Programme READING




Experience a brilliant training in performing arts delivered by professional performers and coaches, learning skills, techniques and working towards shows, productions & showcases.

FREE TRIAL SESSIONS AVAILABLE Classes in Reading, Wokingham, Winnersh, Woodley & Finchampstead Call Helen on 0118 973 6711 Email:

SOTA SEEDS: 3-4 yrs

A fantastic introduction SOTA SAPPHIRES: 5-6 yrs to performing arts. SOTA SCHOOL: 7-16 yrs

3x hrs of dance, singing & acting masterclasses

We also offer ISTD Modern, Tap & Ballet & LAMDA Acting Exams gaining pupils valuable UCAS points.

A��r� ��n���g ��s�� ��a��e� ��r ���i�� � ��u�� ��i��r�� OUTSTANDING DANCE, SINGING & DRAMA TRAINING









Tel: 07833 221135 Email:

Book online:


Thames Valley West


inthisissue ISSUE 69 • JAN/FEB 2014

Visit us now at www.

4 7 8 10 11

News & Views Mums in Business Clubs & Classes News What is Autism? Education

News, open days and surviving parents’ evening

As we welcome in a new year, it’s time to reflect on what is really important to us, and plan for the coming year. Do you have big hopes and dreams for 2014? It can be scary stepping out of your comfort zone to try something new but we’ve got some useful tips to help on page 31. Maybe you’re thinking of starting your own business? If you need some inspiration, take a look at our Mums in Business page, where we talk to a couple of local mums who have already taken the plunge and are loving it. How are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions – the ones that seemed so easy with a glass, or two, of bubbly in your hand and the whole year ahead? Now that we’re into cold, hard-up January, a date with some chocolate biscuits in front of the TV can seem a whole lot more appealing than a work out down the gym. So if you need a little motivation to get you back on track, take a look at our New Year, New You feature. Learn why ditching the diet is the best way to get slim for life and, if gyms aren’t for you, find out about Nordic walking. It’s a great way to get a full body work-out.

16 Potty Training 18 What’s On 22 New Year, New You 22 Walk yourself fit 24 How to be slim forever 25 Family resolutions

26 Bumps & Babes Antenatal classes, baby science

28 Family Holidays 28 How to have a proper holiday 29 A weekend in Denmark

30 Competitions

Whatever you wish for, may you have a happy and successful 2014.

31 Break out of your

Comfort Zone

Karen and Jane

To advertise: Tel: 0118 954 6893

Don’t miss these great offers and competitions

Contact us: Designed by: Graphic Resolutions 01438 871600 Next issue: March/April – Childcare, Easter Activities Booking Deadline – 1 February

Editor’s Letter

Front cover photo courtesy of Mothercare


WIN a treatment at the Harrison Clinic – page 25 WIN tickets to Bucklebury Farm Park – page 30 WIN a word art frame from Dinky Fingerprints – page 30 WIN tickets to Beale Park – page 30 Child goes FREE* to Look Out Discovery Centre – page 30 *when accompanied by a full paying adult

Senior School at Work: Wed 22 Jan 9.15am Senior School at Work: Wed 5 March 9.15am

Personal tours available at your convenience, please call Nursery 0118 977 3912, Prep 0118 989 2562 or Senior 0118 974 8300 Wokingham, Berkshire RG41 5BG

Thames Valley West


News & Views

Lots more at

Wild and wacky diets strangediets

Returning to work after maternity leave returntowork

More on health and well-being health

Get behind the new NSPCC ChildLine appeal The NSPCC is calling on local people across the Thames Valley to get involved with fundraising activities and supporting their £500,000 appeal – Now I Know - which will help fund its new ChildLine Schools’ Service in primary schools across Berkshire. Sadly, there are still high numbers of children and young people across the UK who are affected by child abuse and NSPCC research shows that, on average, at least two children in every primary classroom will have suffered some form of abuse or neglect. ChildLine is working to help protect the future generation and plans to put the service in all of the 291 primary schools in Berkshire. Visiting 9 to 11 year olds, the team will help to educate children about abuse and how to protect themselves, using age appropriate assemblies and workshops. NSPCC head of regional fundraising, Christian Morris said; “Imagine a generation of children who have the knowledge to prevent abuse - we believe it’s possible. And with your support, we can

Fiona Turner with campaign supporter Basil Brush

make it happen, one primary school at a time. We really hope that the people of Berkshire will get behind the Now I Know appeal to help fund that vital work in this area.” To find out more about the

appeal and how you can get involved, contact Fiona Turner, fundraising manager via email or call 07748 321461. Learn more about the work of the NSPCC at

New distributer needed for West Berkshire We are looking for a new distributer to cover the West Berkshire area which includes Newbury, Chieveley, Thatcham, Burghfield and Bradfield. If you would like to earn a little extra cash and can spare a couple of days every two months to distribute Families magazine to nurseries, schools, libraries etc., please email us at to find out more.

Giving children a helping hand with geography A recent poll reveals that many UK children have a rather hazy grasp of basic geography, with 11% naming Hogwarts as a real landmark and 19% thinking the English Channel is one of the five oceans of the world. So, to help school-aged children improve their geography knowledge in a fun way, Travelzoo has just launched the ‘Map the World’ app. This timed digital jigsaw puzzle of the countries of the world is designed for families to complete together, and aims to inspire the travellers of the future. The iPad app can be downloaded from iTunes for free, with an option to donate to the ‘Open


Thames Valley West

Arms Malawi’ charity which offers support to orphans in Malawi. Visit for further information.


News & Views

New services from Mummy’s Maid You might already have heard about or used the services of local domestic goddesses Mummy’s Maid (www., who provide housekeeping, cleaning and other practical support to busy families and stressed-out mums – whether you need a personal assistant for a few days, someone to organise workmen, or a hand in preparing for a holiday or the arrival of a new baby.  From this January Mummy’s Maid will have a new logo and will be offering some new services: childcare (including one-off childcare), elderly companionship and illness support. All staff are fully vetted and given enhanced CRB checks. Services are offered with no lengthy contracts or yearly membership fees, so you can use them as and when the need arises. For more information or to book a free in-house consultation, call 0845 463 0075 or visit

Free consultation at B-Legal Solicitors Alison Whistler and Martin Lambert are both experienced Family Law Solicitors working at B Legal Solicitors who have offices based in Marlow, Henley-on-Thames, High Wycombe and Beaconsfield. Family Law covers all legal issues connected to relationship breakdown including divorce, separation, division of assets, property and pensions, spousal and child maintenance claims, child centred disputes about contact and residence and dissolution of civil partnerships. Other areas include cohabitation, adoption, domestic violence and pre-nuptial agreements. Both Alison and Martin are committed to Alison Whistler providing practical legal advice to clients and wherever possible attempt to negotiate, mediate or collaborate on behalf of clients rather than litigate. Divorce can be stressful and expensive but it doesn’t have to be if you take specialist legal advice. Martin and Alison both offer new clients an initial free 30 minute consultation so that clients are given legal and practical advice tailored to their individual circumstances. Martin Lambert Call them now on 01628 496 687, email them at or visit

Personal injury solicitors Specialising in a wide range of accidents and injuries, we have been helping accident victims for well over 30 years.

Members of all the relevant specialist panels including the Law Society, Headway and the Spinal Injuries Association.

We hope it never happens to you, but if you do have an accident, call Kim Smerdon Freephone 0800 884 0719 Email Let us show you that it really is true ... not all law firms are the same.

Families Mag TVwest Mar 2013v2.indd 1

Visit us for the latest news Visit now at www.

06/02/2013 12:42:49

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News & Views

Osteopathy Physiotherapy Acupuncture Cranial Osteopathy Sports Massage Nutritional Consultancy

Exceptional care in a friendly, relaxed environment 0118 976 2253

Bridge Farm, Farley Farms, Reading Road, Arborfield,Reading, RG2 9HT

Cool addition to your lunchbox Ohyo is an ingenious collapsible drinks bottle with a pop‐out spout. Designed and made in Britain from safe BPA-free reusable plastic, it aims to provide a cheaper, more environmentally friendly alternative to buying bottled water. The Ohyo can hold up to 500ml of liquid and then be squashed down flat to fit into your pocket. Kids love the funky design and grown-ups love the wide neck which means you can just pop it in the dishwasher for a really good clean. Available in a variety of colours, the Ohyo costs around £4.99 from various retailers or the website

Be seen, be safe At this time of year the walk to and from school often has to be made in the dark. Make sure your child can be seen by other road users by clipping this innovative new product, the Flare, to their clothing, bike or bag. It’s an electroluminescent lighting device which, in plain English, means it emits a sharp eye catching light that can be seen from a great distance. And the natural sway of the device when you move attracts maximum attention. Available in three colours, the Flare is robust enough to use for cycling, running, horse riding, camping – in fact just about any outdoor activity – and its battery will last for 60 hours. To find out more, and see a range of other Hi Viz equipment and sportswear, visit

Join the Caterpillar Club! The Caterpillar Club is an informal playgroup for babies and pre-schoolers that meets every Wednesday morning during term time between 9.4511.30am at Charvil Village Hall, Park Lane, Charvil, RG10 9TR. Any baby, toddler or young child under 5 is welcome, along with their parent, carer or grandparent, to play and join in with the singing and craft sessions always on offer.


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The group has just been taken over by three local mums, who are looking to increase numbers. It costs just £2 for the first child, £1 for any extra children, with a free drink and biscuit for everyone! So if you live in the Charvil, Twyford or Sonning areas why not go along and give the group a go. To find out more, call Alison Waters on 0118 934 3723 or email


Mums in Business

Getting kids active, while having fun Sima Stannage lives in Maidenhead with her husband and two children, Natasha (aged 12) and Chloe (aged 7). Inspired by her passion for entertaining and playing games with children, she turned from aerobics teacher to children’s party entertainer with a difference, when she set up Sima’s Action Kids back in 2005. Sima had previously worked as a fitness and aerobics instructor and taught at health clubs and leisure centres whilst studying for an MSc in Exercise & Health Behaviour (specialising in children). So what inspired Sima to set up her business? “After graduating I worked in health and fitness promotion,” she told us, “setting up schemes to promote physical activity to children and in particular teenage girls. I also trained to deliver physical activity to preschool children and set up sessions for this age group too. “But it was not until I entertained the children at my daughter Natasha’s 4th party that I turned my passion into a business. The

Sima and her daughter Natasha entertainment was such a huge success that many of the parents asked if they could book me for their children’s parties.” When Natasha told her mother “the party

was great and the best thing about my party was YOU mummy!” Sima became convinced that setting up the business was the right thing to do - after all the best critic of a children’s entertainer has to be the birthday child. An advert in Families magazine resulted in lots of bookings and she has never looked back. Sima’s Action Kids have been the official kids’ entertainers at several local events, including Maidenhead Festival, and Sima plans to expand this area of the business. She also runs preschool activity clubs. However, the most important part of her business remains birthday parties. As she told us: “Parties are what we do best, so I hope that we can be the entertainers at as many birthday parties locally as we can. I already have a team of entertainers that deliver the party service brilliantly but the most important team member is 7-year-old Chloe, a genuine Sima’s action kid, who is already fully trained to run her own parties, as soon as she is old enough!” To find out more visit www.simasactionkids. com or call Sima on 07956 993 439.

Developing young minds Julia Alsop lives in Wokingham with her husband and children, Thomas (aged 13) and daughter Rachel (aged 10). She runs local Baby College classes. After studying for a degree, Julia had a successful career within HR. However, with her son about to start school, she realised that the constant juggling of family life, commuting and a demanding job just wasn’t working and a serious review of her work/life balance was needed! Inspiration for her change of direction came from the fun baby development classes that she had attended a few years earlier. She told us: “I took my children to Baby College when they were babies and loved spending 1-to-1 time with them in a fun environment, whilst learning about their development.” Julia left her job and began running Baby College classes in the Reading and Wokingham area. “I have been teaching classes for around 8½ years; how time flies when you’re having fun! It

Julia and her children was the best thing I could have done - not only does it allow me to use the psychology and child development knowledge from my degree, but I am very lucky to be able to be home after school

and during the holidays, to help and support my children. I can share my knowledge and help other people as well. My children feel as though Baby College is part of their lives too, and often help me prepare activities for the week, and ask about the babies who are attending.” Baby College classes, for babies from birth to 3 years, include a carefully designed mixture of physical, multi-sensory and cognitive games, exercises and activities including music, dancing, signing (based on Makaton) and much more. Julia told us “Our structured programme provides your baby with a complete developmental workout. It helps to build the strong neural pathways that are vital for early brain development and all subsequent learning. At the same time Baby College also offers you a marvellous insight into baby development so you can learn all about your growing baby.” To find out more about Baby College, please contact Julia on 0118 979 8549 or e-mail

Call your local Stagecoach to Enrol Bracknell Bracknell North Henley Maidenhead

0800 707 6684 0845 055 6382 01494 533 203 0118 942 3038

Newbury Reading East Reading West Wokingham

0870 061 3526 01932 348844 0844 800 9482 01183 712 998

Visit us for the latest news Visit now at www.

Thames Valley West


Clubs & Classes 55x90_multiple3:Layout 2


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 & Twyford

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

Making Music Magic! For babies & pre-schoolers

Bracknell, Wokingham & Crowthorne Contact Liz 07985 935662, Henley Contact Anna 07887 571375,


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What’s A headstart in French with Alouette Researchers agree that acquiring a second language is easiest and most natural at a young age. They have also demonstrated that it helps to develop concentration and memory as well as increasing a child’s cognitive ability and motor skills. To benefit from these advantages and gain a headstart at school, why not enrol your child at Alouette where French is taught in a fun and relaxed atmosphere? In classes or private tuition, the local qualified teacher, who is originally from Paris, promotes communication skills and encourages confidence in the language. New classes are starting soon in Wokingham on Saturdays. For more information, call 07759 812 016, email alouetteclub@ or visit

Diddi Dance launches across Reading and Wokingham Diddi Dance, the market leader in dedicated pre-school dance classes, launches across Reading and Wokingham this month. As the only such class to explore multiple dance styles - from Salsa, Country, Bollywood and Irish to Hip Hop, Jive, Charleston and many more - the sessions are the ideal way to introduce toddlers to the joy of dancing. Classes follow a structured plan designed to complement and enhance the EYFS, yet are taught in a relaxed and creative atmosphere where children can learn at their own pace as confidence builds. Parents are encouraged to join in and share the fun too! “What a fantastic class!” said Pam Smith, Kilnsea Pre-School Manager. “The children really responded to the session’s fastpace, exciting props and catchy music and the teacher’s boundless energy and enthusiasm combined with gentle encouragement meant that they remained engaged throughout.” To find out more call 07719 878789, email Andrea. or visit


Thames Valley West


New? New MAD Academy classes MAD Academy run music and dance classes for babies and young children (from 3 months to 4 years old) all over the Thames Valley. Classes include lots of singing, movement and dancing, musical instruments and lots of lovely colourful equipment to dance, play and develop with. Due to demand they have recently opened two new classes in the Reading area. Thursdays at 9.45am, there is now a class for walkers to 4yrs at The Lodge School of Theatre Dance, Earley, RG6 7BH; and on Fridays at 10am, enjoy a pay as you go class at The Mad House, 240 S Oak Way, Reading RG2 6UL combined with a half price soft play session. See for full details.

An exciting year ahead for Stagecoach Wokingham Stagecoach Wokingham have exciting plans for 2014. They are expanding classes to meet the demand of all the talented children in the area and will now be offering classes on a Saturday morning for 7-18 year olds, as well as doubling their capacity for 4-6 year olds. Last year all main school pupils took part in the world‘s largest performance of CATS at the Birmingham NIA. And this year the older performers are going to Her Majesty’s Theatre (home of ‘Phantom of the Opera’) to take part in a gala event. Principal Claire has over 10 years’ experience of working with children in theatre, and has a pupil in nearly every West End show currently running from ‘Matilda’ to ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. So if you would like more information, give Claire a call on 0118 371 2998 or visit and for up-to-date news see

Clubs & Classes

The West End is calling you! Razzamataz Theatre Schools Wokingham and Woodley are currently looking for boys to join their West End show ’Mary Poppins!‘ Principal, Shelley Fitzgibbon, told us, “This is a very exciting opportunity for anyone interested in the performing arts - we are on the lookout for the next Dick Van Dyke! The performance will be in November at Her Majestys Theatre in London’s West End. We are also looking for boys to play ensemble roles.” Auditions are being held on 18 January at Emmbrook Senior School. Please book your place to audition by calling 07970 034488 or 01189 791 814 or by emailing wokingham@ You would also need to enrol in the schools if successful. Razzamataz is now one of the most popular theatre schools in the Berkshire area with over 200 pupils. Its students have appeared on TV, in films, West End shows and in local pantomimes.

Her Majesty’s Theatre



Classes available aCross berkshire & oxfordshire Ages 4-18

07863 734 830 |

Find us classes forwww. all ages at Visit now at

Thames Valley West


© Doorq -

Special Needs

What is autism? Dr Lucy Russell takes a look at how autism can affect children and what a diagnosis will entail. Autism is a developmental disability that affects children and how they communicate and relate to others around them. Autism can’t be cured, but there is lots of support that can help children learn to cope with their difficulties. Autism is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The spectrum part of ASD means that, while all people with autism share certain areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in different ways.

Autism brings strengths If your child has autism, it’s important to remember that it also brings strengths. Many people with autism like to focus in on very small details of things in great depth. Channelled in the right way this could make them brilliant artists, mathematicians or computer programmers.

Autism brings difficulties There are difficulties with autism, generally they are in three main areas. Communication: Development of language is often delayed in children with an ASD. Both verbal and non-verbal (i.e. gestures) communication can appear unusual. Children may make fewer gestures than ‘normal’ children, such as pointing. They often struggle to make eye contact with others. Conversation with a child on the autistic spectrum may feel disjointed and not synchronised with the person they are talking to or with. Such children may struggle with the ‘to and fro’ nature of a two-way conversation, and may dominate or avoid conversations. People on the autistic spectrum tend to be ‘black and white thinkers’, and struggle to understand phrases that are not concrete, or where the meaning is not obvious. PAGE 10

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Social interaction: Every environment has social rules, such as turn-taking and good manners. People with ASD can struggle to see others’ perspectives, so rules like turn-taking are often difficult to grasp. Some rules may seem illogical and confusing to a child with ASD. Why would you use different words when you’re talking to a child as opposed to an adult? Why are there rules about who you can play with in the playground and who you can’t? Why do I have to wait my turn? Obsessions and rituals: Because they often find the world unpredictable and scary, and are good at focusing on fine detail, people with ASD often develop intense and specialist interests. These interests may become obsessions. Common ones are trains/ Thomas the Tank Engine, and science fiction, but they can be almost anything. An obsession can be positive as it gives a child a ‘specialist subject’ which they can be expert on. They can help build a child’s self-esteem as well as being enjoyable. If an obsession begins to take over a child’s life in a negative way, however, and other things get pushed out, it’s important to seek help.

Asperger’s syndrome One autism spectrum disorder is Asperger’s syndrome. Children with this syndrome can have significant difficulties in social interaction, and sometimes repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests. Children with Asperger’s can have highly functioning speech and ability. Physical clumsiness and peculiar use of language are also frequently seen.

Are there any quick tests? Unfortunately not. Every child with autism is different and so diagnosing takes input from different professionals and different assessments. There are a couple of useful tools which you may wish to try. The national autistic society website ( provides information on The Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) and The

Australian Scale for Asperger’s Syndrome (Garnett and Attwood 1998). By no means should these tools ever be considered as a diagnosis.

Will a diagnosis help my child? This is understandably a big step for parents. On the one hand, having a formal diagnosis can enable the family to move forward and plan how best to support the child’s strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, parents are often worried that having a ‘label’ will be a negative thing for their child. There is no easy answer to this dilemma; however, a diagnosis is often a positive thing for the family.

How is a diagnosis made? Assessments are conducted with input from a multidisciplinary team. There are usually multiple parts to the assessment including a structured parent interview with a psychologist, a cognitive assessment, occupational therapist assessment and school/nursery observation. The range of assessments is designed to ensure accuracy of diagnosis.

Can healthcare professionals help after diagnosis? Absolutely. There are lots of things that can be done to help your child with their difficulties. For instance an occupational therapist can support your child with any sensory issues (such as dislike of noisy or bright places). A clinical psychologist can support the child therapeutically in areas such as social skills, anxiety or obsessions. The aim of therapy will be to reduce the impact of your child’s difficulties. With help your child should be able to learn how to cope and adapt to minimise the difficulties. This can have a very positive knock-on effect on how they build friendships and their general happiness. Dr Lucy Russell is a Clinical Psychologist and leads the autism service at Everlief Child Psychology in West Wycombe. For an informal discussion, or to make an appointment, call 01494 521 332 or email, or visit



Making the most of parents’ evenings with help from Wendy Flynn

Parents’ evenings are an invaluable way to support your child’s education and improve home school communication. Here’s our quick guide to getting the most out of your meeting with the teacher.

When you head off to your parent teacher meeting it’s easy to feel as if you are part of a production line. There is a conveyor belt of parents all waiting to be seen, talked to and dispatched efficiently within the allotted timeslot. So how can you make the most of a brief meeting and come away feeling as if it has all been worthwhile?

Do your homework Start off by involving your child and asking them about their schoolwork – what they are finding easy, and what they are struggling with. Is there anything worrying them at school; or anything that they would like discussed with the teacher? Go through their last report and take a look at any work they have brought home to see if you spot anything of concern. This should help focus your mind before the meeting. You won’t have time to ask lots and lots of questions so make sure you note down the key ones that you want to ask. You don’t want to come away thinking, ‘I wish I had said that’. If possible arrange childcare for your child and any siblings so that you can attend the meeting without any distractions. A frank discussion is always easier without a little eavesdropper hovering nearby!

Good communication is key Remember that this meeting is a two way exchange of information. When there are issues at home – a family bereavement, divorce or any problems that could be affecting your child emotionally, it is important to let the teacher know. It can help them to understand your child’s behaviour or a sudden change in attitude to work. It’s best to let the teacher speak first so that they can cover everything they need. Make sure you really listen to what is being said. If you need clarification, or you have a question related to what is being discussed at that moment, it is fine to ask. Parents’ evenings are not a time to get emotional – try to remain cool and focused. If you hear negative comments about your child try not to get aggressive or become defensive. Instead acknowledge there is an issue and ask for advice on how you can help your child at home.

Most teachers will respond positively and will suggest ways of reinforcing classroom work or good behaviour at home. They might send home additional practice sheets, or suggest good websites for some follow up work. Similarly, if you feel there is a problem with your child’s lack of progress think about how you are going to frame this so it doesn’t come across in a way which puts a teacher on the defensive.

Questions you may want to ask the teacher: • • • • • • • • •

Is my child working to the best of his/her ability? What can we do at home to help? What are they good at and most enjoy? Are there any areas they find difficult? What are their targets in reading, writing and maths? Can they concentrate and focus on their work? Are they good at organising themselves? Do they participate well in class? How do they get on with the other children?

Pick your time This is not the time to talk about school issues; you are there to focus on your child and their development. If you have an issue with the school’s policy on uniform or homework for instance, take this up with the headteacher or governors, not your child’s teacher. Nor is there enough time to discuss major issues without overrunning your appointment and making other parents wait. Instead arrange an extended follow-up meeting at a time when the teacher can spend as long as is needed with you.

More on education at

When you get home Your child will inevitably be curious about what their teacher has said. Give them all the positive feedback you have had from the teacher – they will love to hear it. Whatever level they are working at, be open and enthusiastic about the goals set for them and talk about how you can help your child achieve them. If your child asked you to bring up a particular problem, tell them what you and the teacher decided to do about it. Following up like this gives your child a sense that he has been heard and that you take his concerns seriously.

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Our Lady’s

Preparatory School & Day Nursery ~where every child can thrive~

We are an independent, co-educational setting for children aged 3 months – 11 years. All our children are nurtured and encouraged to learn and develop in a warm, caring and happy environment and to grow into self assured and confident young people. Pre-Prep and Prep School Reception – Year 6, Transparent inclusive fee structure of just £500 per month. Onsite teacher-led wrap around care available 51 weeks at no extra cost. Small class sizes of no more than 20 children. Specialist teachers for 3 languages (French, Spanish, Mandarin),Forest School, Swimming, Cookery, Music and Football.

Nursery and Pre-School Children from 3 months to 5 years on a full or part-time basis, operating from 8am until 6pm, 51 weeks of the year. Activities include: Forest School, Jo Jingles, 3 languages, Crafts, Story time and messy play, whilst incorporating Early Years Foundation learning goals.

The independent day school in Reading for girls aged 3–18

Join us for an Open Morning where our girls will show you around and tell you why they love their school

Junior School and Nursery Open Morning Friday 7 February, 9.15am - 11.00am

Year 3 places also available in Sept 2014


Open Days We do have a number of Open Days throughout the year, however parents are welcome to arrange an appointment to view the school at any time.

01344 773394 The Avenue, Crowthorne, Berks RG45 6PB

For times of Head’s talks and for more information please visit our website. For enquiries contact Admissions on 0118 987 2256 or email

ST EDWARD’S SCHOOL P S 4-13 reParatory

chool for boyS aged

Teaching Today, Forging Tomorrow

We are a small independent school for boys with small class sizes and a caring family environment that focuses on the individual boy’s academic, moral & physical development. Located in the heart of Reading, we are a school with a good reputation that strives to bring value for money for parents.

OPEN MORNING: Friday 7th February 2014 Please register with Andrea Cottle: or call 0118 957 4342 64 Tilehurst Road, Reading RG30 2JH • PAGE 12

Thames Valley West



Independent Schools Open Days Oxfordshire Cranford House, near Wallingford (girls

3-16yrs & boys 3-7yrs) 01491 659 872   Little Willows Nursery Open Morning Fri 14 Feb, 10am-12 noon. Junior School Open Morning Thu 6 Mar, 9.30am-12 noon.

Dragon School, Oxford (co-ed day

4-8yrs, co-ed day & boarding school 8-13yrs) 01865 315 413 admissions@ Please contact the school to register for the next open days in May 2014.

Radley College, Abingdon (boarding

school, boys only 13-18yrs) 01235 543174 Please contact the school to organise a visit.

Rupert House School, Henley-on-Thames Photo courtesy of Dunnes Stores

(day school, boys 3-7yrs, girls 3-11yrs) 01491 574 263, Open Morning Sat 22 Mar, 10am-12 noon.

St Mary’s School, Henley-on-Thames

(co-ed day, 2-11yrs) 01491 573 118, Call the school to arrange a visit or taster day.

Shiplake College, Henley-on-Thames

Bracknell and Ascot LVS Ascot (co-ed day & boarding, 4-18yrs)

01344 882 770 Junior and Senior School Open Morning Tue 4 Feb. Senior School Saturday Tour 8 Mar, 9.45am-12noon with Head‘s welcome at 10am. To book please complete the online booking form or email

Meadowbrook Montessori School,

Malt Hill, Warfield (co-ed, 18mths-12yrs) 01344 890 869 Please contact the school to organise a visit.

The Marist Preparatory School,

Ascot (girls only, 2½-11yrs) 01344 626 137 Open Morning Fri 14 Mar, 9.45-11.30am.

The Marist Senior School, Ascot

(girls only, 11-18yrs) 01344 624 291 Open Morning Thu 27 Feb, 9.15-11.15am.

Our Lady’s Preparatory School and Day Nursery, Crowthorne (Catholic day school, co-ed, 3mths-11yrs) 01344 773 394 Open Morning Fri 10 and Sat 11 Jan, 9am-12noon.

(boarding & day school, boys only 11-18yrs, girls sixth form) 0118 940 2455 Open Morning Sat 29 Mar, 10am-12noon. Book online.

The Oratory School, Woodcote

(Catholic day & boarding school, 11-18yrs) 01491 683 500 Open Morning Sat 11 Jan, 9.30am-12noon. To attend please email

The Oratory Preparatory School,

Goring Heath (Catholic, co-ed day & boarding school, 2-13yrs) 0118 984 4511 Open Morning Sat 8 Mar, 9.30am-12.30pm. Please contact the school office to confirm attendance.

Reading The Abbey School, Reading (girls only,

Dolphin School, Hurst, Reading (co-ed, 3-13yrs) 0118 934 1277 Open Morning Fri 28 Feb, 10.45am-12.30pm. Hemdean House School, Caversham

(co-ed infant & junior, girls only 11-16yrs) 0118 947 2590 Entrance Exam Sat 1 Feb, 9.30-12noon.

Leighton Park School, Reading (co-ed

day & boarding, 11-18yrs) 0118 987 9600 Monthly Open Mornings Tue 28 Jan, Tue 25 Feb and Tue 18 Mar at 10.15am with short introduction by the head. Please register online as open mornings are regularly over-subscribed.

Queen Anne’s School, Caversham (day & boarding, girls only, 11-18yrs) 0118 918 7333 Open Morning Fri 28 Feb, 9.30am. 11+ Taster Day Tue 25 Feb. Contact the school to reserve your place. Reading Blue Coat School, Sonning

(day, boys 11-18yrs, girls 16-18yrs) 0118 944 1005 Open Morning Sat 26 April, 9.30am.

Wellington College (co-ed day &

boarding school, 13-18yrs) 01344 444 000 Please contact school for availability on visitors’ days held on Saturday twice a term.

Yateley Manor School, Yateley (co-ed school with nursery, 3-13yrs) 01252 405500 Open Morning Sat 15 Mar 10am-12noon.  Please call to book your place. For individual tours please telephone or email

West Berkshire Alder Bridge Steiner School, Padworth (co-ed, 3-14yrs) 0118 971 4471  Open Morning Sat 8 Mar, 10am-1pm. Elstree School, Woolhampton (boys 3-13yrs, girls 3-8yrs) 0118 971 3302, Prep Open Morning Sat 1 Mar, 10am-12 noon. Nursery and Pre-Prep Open Morning Fri 28 Feb, 10am-12noon.

St Edwards School, Reading (boys

Pangbourne College, Pangbourne (co-ed, 11-18yrs) 0118 984 2101 Please contact school for details.

St Joseph’s College, Reading (co-ed, 3-18yrs) 0118 966 1000 Prep Open Morning Tue 28 Jan and Thu 20 Mar, 9.15-11am. College Open Morning Tue 28 Jan and Thu 20 Mar, 10.30am-12noon.

St Gabriel’s School, Newbury

only, 4-13yrs) 0118 957 4342 Open Morning Fri 7 Feb, 9-11am.

South of Reading The Cedars School, Aldermaston (co-ed day, 4-11yrs) 0118 971 4251 Please contact the school to organise a visit.

Crosfields School, Shinfield (co-ed day prep, 3-13yrs) 0118 987 1810 pa@ Open Morning Tue 14 Jan, 9-11.30am, with Head’s Address at 9.15am.

3-18yrs) 0118 987 2256 admissions@ Junior School and Nursery Open Morning Fri 7 Feb and Fri 9 May, 9.15-11am. Senior School Open Morning Fri 2 May, 9-10.30am.

Eagle House School, Sandhurst (co-ed

Caversham Preparatory School, Caversham (co-ed day school, 3-11yrs) 0118 947 8684 Open Mornings Fri 24 Jan and Fri 31 Jan, 9.30-11.30am.

St Neot’s Preparatory School,

day and boarding, 3-13yrs) 01344 772134 Pre Prep Open Morning Fri 7 Feb, 9-11.30am. Whole School Open Morning Sat 1 Mar, 10am-12.30pm. Eversley (co-ed day & weekly boarding school, 3 mths-13yrs) 0118 973 2118 Open Morning Fri 28 Feb, 9.30-11.30am.

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(girls 3-18yrs, boys 3-7yrs) 01635 555680, Open Morning Fri 28 Feb, 9.30am-12noon.

Wokingham Bearwood College, Wokingham (co-ed day nursery, prep & senior school, 3mths-18yrs, boarders welcomed 11-18yrs) 0118 974 8300 Senior School at Work Wed 22 Jan and Wed 5 Mar, 9.15am.

Holme Grange School, Wokingham, (co-ed day school, 3-13yrs) 0118 978 1566 Open Morning Fri 17 Jan, 9.30am-12noon. Luckley House School, Wokingham (girls only day & boarding, 11-18yrs) 0118 978 4175 Open Morning Sat 18 Mar. Please contact the registrar to reserve a place.

Waverley School & Nursery, Wokingham (co-ed, 3mths-11yrs) 0118 973 1121 Open Morning Sat 25 Jan, 10.30am-12.30pm.

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Boys (Aged 11-18) • Girls (Sixth Form) Day and Boarding (Full, Weekly, Flexi) Inclusive • Individual • Inspirational

Improve 11+ vocabulary in a flash Open Morning: 29th March 2014 +44 1491 574 263

OPEN DAY • Saturday 22nd March 10 – 12 noon

• •


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Looking to boost your child’s vocabulary ahead of the 11+ exam? Farquhar’s Vocabulary Flash Cards have been specifically created to improve children’s verbal reasoning skills. Featuring carefully selected words collated from recognised 11+ material, the cards will build confidence and vocabulary knowledge at the appropriate level tested in the 11+ Entrance Examination. The flash cards will encourage your child to build up a bank of challenging vocabulary, synonyms, antonyms and compound words. Easily portable in small sets, they are perfect for vocabulary practice on the go - an invaluable time-saving resource for busy parents. For more information visit

Shiplake College Shiplake College is a thriving boarding and day school for boys aged 11-18, with girls joining in the Sixth Form. Overlooking the river, two miles upstream of Henley-on-Thames, pupils enjoy a beautiful 45 acre site based around the historic Shiplake Court. Shiplake provides a friendly, supportive and structured environment in which pupils can flourish. The school aims to admit a well-balanced range of pupils with a variety of skills and talents, who can make the most of the many opportunities offered to them. Shiplake provides an education that is tailored to the individual and does this through engaging and inspirational multi-sensory teaching, delivered in small classes where the teachers know and understand each pupil’s method of learning. Shiplake continues to see year-on-year improvements at both GCSE and A Level. In addition they offer excellent sporting, artistic and extra-curricular opportunities and outstanding pastoral care. A new Art, Music and Resource Centre, complete with lecture theatre and recording studio, will be opened in September 2014. Shiplake prides itself on bringing out the best in each and every individual and is renowned for its outstanding pastoral care and valueadded at both an academic and personal level.

National Storytelling Week This February brings seven days of reading, sharing and listening with the 14th Annual National Storytelling Week. From 1-8 February, schools, drama clubs and performance groups across the country will hold events to celebrate the joy of storytelling.  Over the past decade National Storytelling Week has gone from strength to strength, with many areas of the community taking part in creating and enjoying storytelling. To find out more go to JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014


Education News Rupert House School Rupert House has an enviable academic reputation and sends children to the most prestigious senior schools. Music and Drama too are given prominence. Pupils are able to perform both within the school and to external audiences, with regular drama productions, a Drama club and opportunities to work towards LAMDA and English Speaking Board exams. Tuition is available for a range of musical instruments, and a variety of choirs, orchestra and music groups encourages all abilities. The wide range of extra-curricular activities available is designed to offer children new and exciting challenges and experiences, and to ensure a truly holistic education. Sports activities include fencing, martial arts, football, dance, tennis and swimming plus lots more. Vibrant and innovative art work enhances and supports the school’s learning environment and pupils can enjoy a number of creative clubs from Sketching and Manga art to Puppet making and Gardening.  Creative thinking is encouraged with weekly lessons of Mindlab for Year 3 and Maths, Mandarin, Mindlab and Latin clubs offering further opportunities to extend higher level thinking and strategic skills. To arrange a visit to Rupert House to see what’s on offer call 01491 574 263 or visit

Waverley in top 100 The children and staff of Waverley Preparatory School in Wokingham have been celebrating the news of their appearance in the Times Top 100 Prep Schools. They told us: “We were delighted to be ranked as the top school in the Thames Valley Area and placed 55th nationally, ahead of a number of selective schools. “This exceptional result followed on from an outstanding set of SATs results, plus Grammar entries and Scholarship Awards for local independent schools. Our ethos is one of high challenge and, as a non-selective school, we are delighted to see the achievement and progress of all of our children.” Find out more about Waverley School at

© Jacek Chabraszewski -

GCSE shake up Will we see a revival of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen in Michael Gove’s new GCSEs? In the latest in a number of moves to make GCSEs more demanding, the Education Secretary has announced the introduction of a new curriculum. Under these more challenging examinations, students will be expected to memorise maths formulae and concentrate more on spelling, punctuation and grammar, plus studying more pre20th century authors. The new curriculum, beginning in September 2015 with the first exams being taken in English and Maths in summer 2017, has the aim of improving pupils’ achievement, compared with their contemporaries in other countries. While the maths syllabus will include ratios, vectors and conditional probability amongst other topics, the new curriculum for English literature demands students study at least one Shakespeare play, one 19th century novel, a selection of poetry, and British fiction or drama from

More on education at

1914 onwards. In English language, the emphasis will primarily be on ‘unseen’ texts. “The new mathematics GCSE will be more demanding and we anticipate that schools will want to increase the time spent teaching mathematics,” the Education Secretary said. “On average, secondary schools in England spend only 116 hours per year teaching mathematics, which international studies show is far less time than that spent on this vital subject by our competitors. The new GCSEs in English and mathematics set higher expectations. They demand more from all students and provide further challenge for those aiming to achieve top grades.” The exams will also end the use of A* to G letter grades in favour of a numbered scale from nine to one, with nine being the highest grade. Plus, course modules and assessments will be dropped, with grades determined by only one exam for most subjects. The new curriculum for the rest of the GCSE subjects will be announced this spring.

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Free Entitlement available.

For eligible 2 year olds and 3 & 4 year olds.





How to without Potty training can be one of the most stressful stages of being a parent but a new, beautifully illustrated and easy to use book, ‘How to Potty Train’, by Judith Hough and Diane Titterton, aims to make it simple and even enjoyable for parents and children. Here they offer some helpful advice for parents embarking on training their child. Jubilee Gems, Ark House, School Road, Padworth, Berkshire, RG7 4JA. Telephone: 0118 9834018 Email:

Indoor and outdoor fun for 5-11 year olds.

BOOK ONLINE NOW! 17th to 21st February 4th to 17th April | 0118 983 4018 Ark House, School Road, Padworth, RG7 4JA


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When to begin?

Is my child ready?

Parents are often blamed for potty training happening later and lasting longer. But we, and many health professionals, believe that one of the main reasons this is happening is because of the over-use of disposable nappies. While they are great, they are so absorbent and dry that they mask the signs that children are ready to start potty training. This means that children wear them beyond the age of two, which is the best time to potty train. In fact, if potty training is started much later, it can be more difficult and take longer because children find it more convenient to let a parent clear up the mess than have their play disrupted to go to the toilet. Potty training isn’t something children will do by themselves; it has to be taught, like brushing teeth and preparing for potty training is an important first stage. Parents can start preparation from when the child is around 18 months. There are a number of ways to do this, including starting to change the nappy in the bathroom as this is where grown-ups go, and saying when a nappy is wet and when it is dry to help them learn.

The question we get asked most is ‘how do I know when my child is ready to start?’ There are a number of things to look out for, including the child doing fewer larger wees, rather than lots of little ones, as this is a sign they are learning to hold on. Being able to follow simple instructions and ask for things, like a drink, is a good sign. Many children also show signs that they know they are doing a wee or a poo – look out for the ‘potty dance’! These, combined with being around the age of two, usually mean children are ready to start.

Go for it! When parents decide to go for it, they need to take the nappy off and not be tempted to put it back on during the day. It can confuse children when they are just starting out, and it can also make them believe that they have a choice. If the leap is too great, use Dry Like Me pads in ordinary pants to help to capture the mess and remove the temptation to put the nappy back on. It’s extremely difficult to potty train in a nappy, so parents must make the leap into own pants.

How to Potty Train guides parents through the five stages of potty training – from preparation right through to getting dry at night. It contains lots of ‘read together’ sections so parents and children can learn together, as well as lots of stickers to reward progress. There’s some great cartoon sections for you to share with your child too - including bathroom and bedtime routines. Published by Brewin Books, it costs around £8.95 and is available from a range of retailers, including Amazon, and from



potty train going potty Accidents are key to learning Parents shouldn’t see accidents as a sign of failure. They are a key part of learning as children may not have felt the difference between wet and dry in their nappy. In fact, young children can only feel that they need the toilet when their bladder is about ¾ full, and so accidents are likely to be large and there will be less time to react. Children get better at predicting and holding on as their bladder and their brains connect and mature. Although potty training can be stressful, it’s important to try not to get frustrated. If the child doesn’t appear to be succeeding, focus praise on effort in trying and the parts of potty training that are going well, such as washing hands. A good tip is to aim any frustration at the naughty wee or poo, and get the child to join in. We also recommend instant rewards that are small and inexpensive, like stickers, for maximum impact. After a week or two focusing on potty training children are likely to be making progress but it’s after this time, when life gets back to normal and there are more trips out that parents can start to think things are not working, and be tempted to put the nappy back on.

Keep going There are lots of ways to help with this ‘keeping going’ stage. For example, on first trips out, be prepared - take changes of clothes, a potty in a carrier bag, and make first trips short and achievable. Expect accidents with play dates, or at school. Children are learning an additional skill – to listen to their bodies while they are busy and distracted. Try to keep positive as children can get frustrated and frightened of failure at this stage, especially after doing so well earlier on.

Night-time Once children have mastered day time potty training, they are ready to tackle night time potty training and there are simple steps to take to make this more successful, including limiting drinks in the early evening and making sure the potty is by the bed or easily accessible and well lit as some children are frightened to get up to go to the toilet at night. With all potty training, it is a case of following a common sense approach and sticking with it. But we know it’s not always easy to find all the advice you need in one simple guide and that’s what we hope we have achieved with ‘How to Potty Train’.

Baby Sensations Baby Sensations is a small independent Berkshire company offering Baby Massage classes and Sensory sessions. For more details find us on facebook or visit

0118 935 3759 or 07738 566 646 E-mail

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Children’s Party Planners

• Bear Making Parties • Fabric Painting Parties • Theme Parties Visit our website for current prices. or call us on 07764 849828 or e-mail:

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What‘s On

Please always check before setting out in case details have changed since going to press.

Diary Dates Ongoing Events


Every Friday during term time – TODDLER TIME at The Musuem of English Rural Life, The University of Reading, Redlands Rd, Reading, 0118 378 8660, RG1 5EX, Accompanied children aged 2-4yrs can enjoy rhymes, songs and craft activities based on objects in MERL’s collection or garden. Drop in. 10-11am. £2 per child. Every day – ODDS FARM PARK at Wooburn Common, nr Beaconsfield, 01628 520 188, Open daily from 10am throughout the winter with indoor and outdoor play areas and lots of animals. From February half term onwards there are baby goats to bottle feed, plus all the other baby animals to meet. From 18 Jan – THE BOGGLING BRAIN DRAIN SHOW at The Look Out Discovery Centre, Bracknell, RG12 7QW, 01344 354 400, thelookoutdiscoverycentre Running at weekends and school holidays, this show investigates how the human brain works, including memory, imagination, and optical illusions. Participants will have to think fast, as their reactions are tested in special brain games. Suitable for 4+yrs. Additional fee. Shows at 11am, 12 noon, 2pm & 3.15pm (subject to minimum numbers). V Don’t miss our ticket offer for The Look Out on page 30.

8-9 Jan – TODDLER DAYS: TRAINS, BOATS & PLANES at The Look Out Discovery Centre, Bracknell, RG12 7QW, 01344 354 400, thelookoutactivitiesfortoddlers Alongside the fun to be had in the hands-on science and nature exhibition, special activities will also be running just for toddlers. Activities include art and craft, play dough, face or hand painting and storytelling. On toddler days buy one drink and get another free to the same value. A great place to meet up with friends. £6.50 per parent and toddler and an additional £1.50 for an extra child. V Don’t miss our ticket offer for The Look Out on page 30. 10 Jan – TRADITIONAL ORCHARD WASSAIL at Lily Hill Park, Bracknell,

RG12 2RX, uk/parksandcountrysidevents Wassailing is a very old English custom to celebrate and protect fruit trees and ensure a good harvest. Come and enjoy a simple revival of this seasonal tradition accompanied by melodeon music and a little tipple or two. Suitable for all. Bring apple juice or cider and meet at main car park, off Lily Hill Rd. 7-8.30pm. 16-18 Jan – SNOW WHITE & THE FAIRY TALE CREATURES at the Kenton Theatre, New Street, Henley, RG9 2BP, When a magic mirror tells Queen Cruella

Toddler Days at The Look Out, 8 & 9 Jan

that Snow White is by far the most beautiful, the wicked queen flies into a fury and has her poisoned with an apple and put in the dungeons. It’s up to Muddles, Donkey and the Seven Dwarfs to seek out Snow White and free her of this horrible curse. Are they successful and, if so, at what cost? An amateur production of this classic tale. Tickets: £13, child £10, conc. £11. 18 Jan – RECYCLED ARTS WORKSHOP at The Nature

Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, Lower Way, Thatcham, RG19 3FU, Join ingenious recycler Jill to find out how to turn egg boxes in to fantastic bugs to

take home. A drop-in event for families. 11am-4pm. £1 per bug. 21-22 Jan – KIDNAPPED at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 5218 218, An adventure tale for all the family, Kidnapped tells the story of Davie Balfour as he survives shipwreck and murder to dramatically escape to the Highlands of Scotland. Set against the fierce social and political backdrop of 1750s Scotland, this gripping, fast-paced adventure story is packed full of physical storytelling and imagination. Suitable for 6+yrs. 7.45pm. Tickets: £14, conc. £12, under 25s £10.

Open daily from 10am-6pm

0118 971 4002

Latest research shows that just five minutes of exercise in a “green space” such as a farm park can boost physical and mental health. Researchers at the University of Essex looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem from exercise in a green space

your doorstep on t h g ri , y a w a ld It’s a wor

At Bucklebury Farm Park, you can run, jump, swing, go-kart, ramble and relax in the fresh air all year round. You can feed our friendly farm animals and watch the deer in the park Sat nav postcode: RG7 6RR


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What‘s On Photo courtesy RSPB

25 Jan – FAMILY WILDLIFE FUN at The Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, Lower Way, Thatcham, RG19 3FU, Find out how to spot the birds you might find in your garden and take a look at the birds that live on the lake. Take a survey sheet away to take part in the Big Garden Bird Watch. A drop-in event. 2pm-4pm. £1 per child.

17 Feb – BIN MEN at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Ringmead, Bracknell, RG12 7PA, 01344 484 123, Don and Sam are bin men with big dreams. They want to save the world and they want to have fun doing it. Bin men see everything we throw away – but Don and Sam can find a use for anything. A story about recycling and transforming told with live music, puppetry, a touch of Don Quixote and lots of fun. Suitable for 5+yrs. 2pm. Tickets: £10, child £6.50, family £26.50.

25 Jan – LIFE IN THE ANCIENT WORLD at the Ure Museum of Greek

Archaeology, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AA, 0118 378 6990, Citizens of Egypt and Greece. How different from ours were the cities of our ancestors? What laws regulated their relationship with their neighbours? How free were they to change their lives and follow their dreams? Find the answer to these and many more questions during this family event. Explore the Museum following a trail and be inspired by the collection for a craft activity. Suitable for accompanied 6+yrs. Booking required. 2pm-4pm. £3 contribution per child for materials.

17 Feb – CLAY MODELLING at Palmer Park Library, St Bartholomew’s Rd, Reading, RG1 3QB, Free craft activity for 5+yrs with parental help required. 15 places available on a first come first served basis. 10am-11am. 17 Feb – THE COUNTRY OWL & THE CITY SQUIRREL at South Street

26 Jan – RSPB BIG GARDEN BIRD WATCH at The River & Rowing

Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley, RG9 1BF, 01491 415 605, Fun wildlife-related activities to enjoy, including making animal masks, dragonflies and bird feeders. The RSPB will be hanging up some feeders outside, full of tasty snacks for the birds to feast on. Look through their binoculars and see what you can spot. Make a note of what you see and add your results to the Big Garden Birdwatch. Free with admission. 50% off admission for RSPB members. 10.30am-3.30pm.

February 1 Feb – BUCKLEBURY FARM PARK RE-OPENS at Bucklebury Farm Park, Bucklebury, RG7 6RR, 0118 971 4002, Enjoy a great day out in the country at this popular local park. With outdoor and indoor play, nature trails, tractor rides, deer park and of course lots of anumals to get up close with, there’s lots here for all the family. V Turn to page 30 for the chance to win tickets to Bucklebury Farm Park. 1 Feb – PINOCCHIO at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 5218 218, Moss Side, 1976. The year of the Great Heatwave and Pinocchio is on the run. In a ramshackle shop his father Elijah, the toymaker, waits. Will Pinocchio ever return to make him proud? This fast, funny and magical show features body-popping and puppetry, music and animation in a unique retelling of a children’s classic. For ages 7+yrs. 7pm. Tickets: £12, conc. £10. 1 Feb – POSTMAN PAT LIVE at The Hexagon, Queens Walk, Reading, RG1 7UA, 0118 960 6060, See Pat and his friends live on stage in an exciting new story about the day of the Great Greendale Talent Show. A top talent scout will be there, on the lookout for a rising star, but the new karaoke machine has broken down putting the show in jeopardy. Can Pat save the day? And who has a ‘golden’ voice that the big name judge might notice? With songs, laughs and audience participation. 1pm. Tickets: £12.50, child £10.50, family £42. 1 Feb – WORKSHOP: A COMMUNITY SELF PORTRAIT at

Reading Museum, The Town Hall, Blagrave St, Reading, RG1 1QH, 0118 937 3400, Experience a working photographic studio within the Making Faces: Tudor to Modern

Join the Big Garden Bird Watch, various venues

exhibition and be part of a growing archive of portraits of local people. Have your photograph taken and be transported digitally to a variety of exotic and familiar locations using editing software. For all ages. 1-3.30pm. 1-23 Feb – FOLLOW YOUR HEART at Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, RG8 9NR, 0118 984 3040, www. Enjoy a self-led trail with a heart shaped treat at the end. £2 per child. Open 10am-4pm. Normal charges apply. 2 Feb – CARE OF HENRY at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Ringmead, Bracknell, RG12 7PA, 01344 484 123, Hugo has to choose who to stay with while his mum’s having a baby. Granny? Mrs Mariposa next door? Or Uncle Jack? Who will care for him and his dog Henry the best? Ideal for 4-8yrs. 1.30pm. Tickets: £7, family £22. 8 Feb – ART: SMALL WORKS SALE at Reading Museum, The Town Hall, Blagrave St, Reading, RG1 1QH, 0118 937 3400, Reading Guild of Artists members will be in the Sir John Madejski Art Gallery with small art works at affordable prices. Everyone is welcome to browse a range of paintings, prints and sculpture. 10.30am-3.30pm. 8 Feb – JOHN HEGLEY IN I AM A ‘POET’ATO at South Street Arts Centre, 21 South Street, Reading, RG1 4QU, 0118 960 6060, John Hegley presents a family show, based around his latest poetry collection for all ages, an A-Z of poems about people, pets and other creatures. From a mosquito and ants to Toby the armadillo from Peru, and not forgetting the unusual unicorn from school. 2pm. Tickets: £10, child/student £7. 11 Feb – BEALE PARK WILDLIFE PARK & GARDENS RE-OPENS at Lower Basildon, near Pangbourne, RG8 9NW, 0844 826 1761, Beale Park opens for the 2014 season. Enjoy the animals, play areas, Pets Corner, miniature railway, Little Tykes Village, toy exhibition, café and lots more in a picturesque Thames-side setting. V Don’t miss our competition to win tickets to Beale Park on page 30.

12 Feb – UNMYTHABLE at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 5218 218, An anarchic blend of comedy, crossdressing, stories and songs that manages to include just about every Greek myth going. Heroes, monsters and gods go headto-head in a hilarious and unforgettable journey through the greatest stories ever told. For ages 12+yrs. 7.45pm. Tickets: £14, conc. £12, under 25s £8. 15 Feb – WELLINGTON COUNTRY PARK RE-OPENS at Wellington

Country Park, Riseley, RG7 1SP, 0118 932 6444, 350 acres of beautiful park and woodland with play areas for all ages, miniature railway, animal farm, lake, crazy golf, nature trails, café and a full calendar of family events.

15, 16 & 19 Feb – HALF TERM STEAMDAYS at Didcot Railway

Centre, Didcot, 01235 817 200, www. Enjoy a ride in coaches from the 1930s behind one of the centre’s Great Western steam locomotives. Plus all the usual attractions of this railway museum, home to many steam and diesel locomotives, passenger coaches and rolling stock.


Wooburn Common, nr Beaconsfield, 01628 520 188, The crazy entertainers return this Half Term with a mix of magic, fun, entertainment and more. Don’t miss the shows at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm – they’re included in your entrance fee. 16 Feb – OLD MACDONALD HAD A FARM at The Hexagon, Queens Walk,

Reading, RG1 7UA, 0118 960 6060, … but his animals have gone missing. Can you help a friendly scientist and his amazing time machine get them back for him? This fun filled farmyard tale brings to life all the best loved characters from the nursery rhyme along with a magical medley of games, giggles and sing along songs told with a combination of live action, puppetry and animation. For ages 4+yrs. 2.30pm. Tickets: £9.50, child £8.50, family £32.

Try our new What’s On calendar at

Arts Centre, 21 South Street, Reading, RG1 4QU, 0118 960 6060, Tony the Owl lives in the countryside. He’s really happy in his little garden until Joe and Charlotte turn up and ruin his peace and quiet. They’ve moved from the city and have brought Mike the Squirrel with them. He’s loud, he’s cheeky and he likes to party. Featuring puppetry, original music, and real earth, this is a story about making friends, being different and why that’s OK. 11.30am & 2pm. Tickets: £7.50.

17&18 Feb – COMEDY WORKSHOP at The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury, RG20 8AE, 01635 46044, Ever wanted to be a stand up? Unleash your inner comic! This is a chance to learn the techniques used by professionals and learn how to create your own comedy sketches. For 8-11yrs on 17th and 12-16yrs on 18th. 10am-4pm. £33. 17-20 Feb – HALF TERM ACTIVITIES at Reading Museum, Blagrave St, RG1 1QH, 0118 937 3400, 17 Feb Make & Take: Kings and Queens - become royalty for the day in your own glittering crown, half-hour drop in sessions for families at 10.30am-12.30pm & 1.30-3.30pm, £1; 18 Feb Time Travellers: The Stinking Tudors - the average Tudor only washed twice a year so rich ladies and gentlemen would use perfumed soaps to disguise their body odour. Make soap balls perfumed with herbs and scented oil in this fun hands-on experience, drop in 1-hour sessions starting at 10am, 11.15am, 1pm & 2.15pm, ages 5+yrs, £3, pay on the day; 18 Feb Victorian Schoolroom Experience - meet a Victorian schoolteacher and re-learn the ‘3Rs’ in the Museum’s unique Victorian classroom. Drop in sessions at 11.30am, 1.15pm & 2.30pm, for adults and 5+yrs, £1 per person, arrive early as places are limited; 19 Feb Make & Take: Elizabeth and her Jester - take a look at the portrait of Elizabeth I in the Museum’s exhibition and make a striking mask of her or her brightly coloured Jester. Halfhour drop in sessions for families between 10.30am-12.30pm & 1.303.30pm, £1; 20 Feb - Time Travellers: A Tudor Sword and Shield - Tudor knights and their followers wore a coat of arms to show exactly who their family was. Fashion a sword and then design your own special coat of arms and use it to decorate a 3D design on your shield. 2-hour sessions at 10am & 1pm, for 7+yrs, £7, please book.

Thames Valley West


What‘s On 17-21 Feb – JUBILEE JETS HOLIDAY CLUB at Ark House, School Rd,

19 Feb Crocodiles of the World - meet a real zoo keeper and learn all about Britain’s only crocodile zoo. Handle a live crocodile and learn how the keepers care for, train and feed these fascinating but deadly creatures. Suitable for all ages with sessions throughout the day, £4.50 per person, must book; 20 Feb Family Wildlife Fun - drop in and enjoy some free outdoor family fun with wildlife related activities,11am-4pm; 22 Feb Dinoscovery - join in a selfguided trail and dinosaur themed crafts, 2pm-4pm, £1 per child.

Padworth Common, RG7 4JA, 0118 983 4018, Half-term holiday club set in beautiful West Berkshire countryside for 5-11yrs. A wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities from den building and quad biking to face painting and dance. 8am-6pm. Full or half days available. Book and pay online.

18 Feb – TOMTEN at South Street Arts Centre, 21 South Street, Reading, RG1 4QU, 0118 960 6060, Tomten has seen generations come and go on the farm. But from where do they come, and where do they go? A deep riddle plays on Tomten’s mind. One thing he knows for sure is that spring is coming; soon cows will be grazing in the fields and swallows singing in the trees again. Viktor Rydberg’s well-loved poem is brought to life in a new puppetry show for 3+yrs. 11.30am & 2pm. Tickets: £7.50. 18-21 Feb – HALF TERM ACTIVITIES at The Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, Redlands Rd, Reading, 0118 378 8660, RG1 5EX, 18 Feb MERL Family Tours - join members of the MERL team of family tour guides for a fun, interactive 30 minute tour of the museum and hear stories about what it was once like to live and work in the countryside. Free drop-in event. 11am & 2.30pm; 19 Feb Clarice Cliff Ceramics - in this workshop inspired by MERL’s exhibition, paint your very own Clarice Cliff inspired ceramic plate to take home using her pieces and MERL’s garden to inspire you. With artist Julie Roberts. Family drop in for 4+yrs between 10am-12.30pm & 1.30-4pm, £3 per child; 20 Feb Metallic Marvels - explore the beautifully engraved metal work in MERL’s exhibition and create your very own piece of metal art to take home. 10am-11.30am, 11.30am-1pm & 2pm-3.30pm, 4+yrs, £3 per child, please book; 21 Feb Plaster Mice - become a sculptor for the day and make a plaster of paris mouse, inspired by the Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson stool in MERL’s exhibition. Drop in between 10am-12.30pm & 1.30pm-4pm, for early years and above, £2 per child. 18-21 Feb – HALF TERM ACTIVITIES at The River and Rowing Museum, Henley, RG9 1BF, 01491 415 605, 18 Feb Mod Roc Mammals - be inspired by the Museum’s riverside location and discover the mammals that live nearby; then create your very own mod roc mammals. 2pm-4pm, ages 7-11yrs, £8.50, please book;

20 Feb – WOW! THIS SHOW IS MAGIC at the Kenton Theatre,

New Street, Henley, RG9 2BP, A live magic and illusion show for all the family with Doctor Bondini and JezO. 2pm & 6.30pm. Tickets: £12, child £10, family £40.

20 Feb – WILD ONES: BIRDS ARE BRILLIANT at Sandhurst Community

Hall, Sandhurst Memorial Park, Yorktown Rd, Sandhurst, GU47 9BJ, parksandcountrysidevents Explore the hedgerows for winter birds and then make your own model birds using wallpaper, clay and paint. Come prepared for mess! 2pm-4pm, for all ages, £4 for materials.

Beale Park re-opens 11 Feb 18 Feb Mysterious Mole - find out what mole does underground and make a spring cleaning mole with dusters and a water bottle. 10.30am-12.30pm, ages 4-7yrs, £8.50, please book; 19 Feb Model Motor Money Box make a money box out of clay in the shape of your favourite car in the Frazer Nash exhibition. 10.30am-12.30pm, ages 7-11yrs, £10, please book; 21 Feb Vroomm Vroomm! - make, play and experiment with things that move in a fun-packed family day to accompany the Frazer Nash exhibition. Free with admission. 10.30am-4pm. 19 Feb – BLAST OFF! BY KID CARPET at The Corn Exchange,

Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 5218 218, A supersonic adventure that follows rock band The Noisy Animals around the rock ‘n’ roll universe as they blast off into space to find a new sound for their latest album. Enjoy lo-fi technological wizardry, laughter and live music as you watch them encounter cheesed-off planets, confused

nursery rhyme characters, shooting stars and even Shakespeare. For ages 4+yrs. 11am & 2pm. Tickets: £10, conc. £8. 19 Feb – WILD WEDNESDAY at Cliveden, Taplow, Drop in fun outdoor activity whatever the weather. See website for further details. 11am-3pm. 19-21 Feb – ‘CODES & COMMS’ HALF TERM ACTIVITIES at REME Museum of Technology, Isaac Newton Rd, Arborfield, Reading, RG2 9NH, 0118 976 3375, There will be activities throughout the museum, with a chance to explore some secret codes and communications. Plus REME’s popular Mini Assault Course will be open, run by real REME soldiers; a change of clothes might be needed! Suitable for 5-12yrs. 11am-3.30pm. 19-22 Feb – HALF TERM ACTIVITIES at The Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, Lower Way, Thatcham, RG19 3FU, 01635 874381,

21 Feb – FREE CRAFT ACTIVITY at Whitley Library, Northumberland Ave, Reading, RG2 7PX, 0118 937 5115, Design your own scratch art bookmarks. Free craft activity for under 10s. Places limited, please book. Children under 8yrs must be accompanied. 10.30am-11.30am. 22 Feb – LIFE IN THE ANCIENT WORLD at the Ure Museum of

Greek Archaeology, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AA, 0118 378 6990, On the Battlefield. Listen to stories of some of the greatest battles of antiquity and to the inspiring acts of courage of the Greeks and the Egyptians on the battlefield. Follow a trail around the museum following in the footsteps of these heroes and make your own hoplite’s weapons to take home with you. 2pm-4pm, accompanied children 6+yrs, booking required, £3 per child.

23 Feb – HUGLESS DOUGLAS at the Kenton Theatre, New Street, Henley, RG9 2BP, A show about a lovable young brown bear who wakes up one morning in need of a hug, told with a blend of music, puppetry, sing-along songs and audience participation. For 3-7yrs. 11am & 2pm. Tickets: £9, child £9, family £30.

Half term activities Join in the family fun

Join us for a family tour or take part in a workshop to paint a plate, try metal art or make a plaster mouse


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Contact us for details

0118 378 8660


What‘s On

Celebrate Woods Day on 23 Feb at Jocks Lane 23 Feb – CELEBRATING WOODS DAY at Jocks Lane Recreation

Ground, Off Binfield Rd, Bracknell, RG12 2BH, uk/parksandcountrysidevents Enjoy a day in the woods with traditional woodland crafts, demonstrations and hands-on fun for all ages. Activities include wood turning, hurdle making, hedge laying, green chair making, Morris dancing, a family-friendly treasure trail, BBQ, miniature steam railway rides, green-gardening and wood products for sale. 10.30am-2.30pm. Free event.

March 1-2 March – ERTH’S DINOSAUR ZOO at The Corn Exchange, Market

Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 5218 218, Dinosaur Zoo brings prehistoric creatures to the stage as you’ve never seen them before. Observe and interact with life-like dinosaurs, from cute baby dinos to teethgnashing giants, in this entertaining and imaginative live show. Children can watch from a safe distance or dare to get right up close to the creatures. For 3+yrs. 11am, 1.30pm & 4.30pm. Tickets: £12.50, front row £15. 1 March – FAMILY STORYTELLING at The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury, RG20 8AE, 01635 46044, ‘Children should be seen and not heard.’ Interactive storytelling that takes you on an exciting journey through Victorian England and takes a peep at the lives of young street urchins. Ideal for accompanied children aged 4-11yrs. Held in the Lily Pad. 10.30am & 11.30am. Tickets: £3. 3-4 March – THE GRUFFALO at The Hexagon, Queens Walk, Reading, RG1 7UA, 0118 960 6060, Meet a wheeler-dealer Fox, an eccentric old Owl and a maraca-shaking, party mad Snake! Mouse can scare these hungry animals away with tall stories of the

terrifying Gruffalo, but what happens when he comes face to face with the very creature he imagined? An ideal introduction to theatre for 3+yrs with plenty of songs, laughs and scary fun. Tickets: £12.

Nearly New Sales 1 Feb – BABY & CHILDREN’S MARKET at Nuffield Fitness Centre,53647 Beale Park Gen Ad '14 87x130mm.indd 1 Newbury Racecourse, RG14 7PN, Quality nearly new baby and children’s items from birth to 8yrs plus a small selection of unique businesses in the baby and children’s industry showcasing and selling their products and services all under one roof. 2pm-4pm. £1 entry, children free.

29/11/2013 15:09

8 Feb – BABY & CHILDREN’S MARKET at Bulmershe Leisure Centre, Woodlands Ave, Woodley RG5 3EU, 2pm-4pm. See 1 Feb entry for details. 15 Feb – BABY & CHILDREN’S MARKET at The Barn, Goosecroft

Lane, off Beech Road, Purley on Thames, Reading RG8 8DR, 2-4pm. See 1 Feb entry for details.

15 Feb – READING NCT NEARLY NEW SALE at St Joseph's College,

Upper Redlands Rd, Reading, 1-3pm, with early entry at 12.45 for NCT members. 1 March – BABY & CHILDREN’S MARKET at Swallowfield Parish Hall, Swallowfield Street, Reading, RG7 1QX, 2-4pm. See 1 Feb entry for details. If you would like details of your production or event to appear in the What’s On pages, please email The deadline for the March/April issue is 1 February.

Try our new What’s On calendar at

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New Year, New You

Not just a You probably already know that walking is good for you... we certainly hear it a lot! So why aren’t more people doing it? Rachel Streek gives Families the lowdown on why it’s so good for you. Apparently 88% of people hate the thought of going to the gym or running. It could be that people don’t consider walking a serious alternative exercise contender – but did you know that mild-mannered walking could be as good, if not better for you, than trying to develop a gym habit? A good walking programme might be just the thing you are looking for – and it won’t be just a walk in the park! Here are 3 reasons why a walking programme could help you get in fabulous shape in 2014 - and way beyond.

Reason no 1: It’s easier to fit it into your busy schedule, often the biggest hurdle to regular exercise.

Divorce – Separation – Family Breakdown “When a relationship breaks down – It doesn’t just affect you, it affects everybody around you”

Berkshire Family Mediation works with families who want to reach an agreement with their ex-partner about:

• Mediation is quicker and cheaper than going to court • Legal Aid is still available for Mediation • We have Fixed Fees for legal services • Consultation with children

• The family home • The finances • Child support and maintenance • Listening to what Children have to say

To arrange an informal and confidential appointment with our Family Mediator call

0118 957 1159

We are on 5th Floor, 160 Friar Street, Reading (above the County Court) and The Broadway Newbury For more information visit our website

Affiliated to National family Mediation Contracted to the Legal Aid Agency. Charity no 11142334:


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It’s very easy to put off going for a run or going to the gym, there’s just so much to do. You need to change ALL your clothes and take a shower afterwards. With walking you just need good shoes or trainers and some comfortable clothes. You can put on gym gear if you like, but you really don’t have to, Catch up with a friend during a brisk hike rather than sitting down over a latte. Don’t make a big deal of it, just put your shoes by the door, and head out when you can.

Reason no 2. It’s a total body workout, just as good as the gym or running You can get a great workout from your walk by using power walking technique and maintaining good form throughout your walk. 1. Hold yourself tall with your chest up – like a soldier 2. Pull your shoulder blades down your back, opening up your chest 3. Suck your stomach in (and hold it like that for the duration of the walk) 4. Keep your hips in neutral position - a very good walker I know describes it as trying to hold an imaginary credit card between your butt cheeks! 5. Your arms should be bent in a right angle, at the elbow. 6. Take shorter, faster strides as you start out and pump those arms 7. Roll right through your feet, feel your toes spread out and push off from your big toe. As well as a cardio workout you can build in muscle strength and endurance exercises en route – try lunges and push-ups on park benches. Employ a personal trainer every couple of months to take you through a program, tell them what you are doing and have them design something for you. On the topic of weight loss yes running burns more calories to a point, but if it’s not for you then you just won’t do it, no matter how good your intentions. Consistent regular exercise is what counts for fitness and weight loss, if that’s your goal. And as you master power walking you can top jogging pace, with considerably less impact on your joints. For runners out there - don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! I started Nordic Walking after a stretch of running injuries, replacing two of my weekly runs with walks. I have taken 30 seconds off my average JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

New Year, New You

walk in the park running mile time and have had a year injury free. I am finding there is a lot to be said for concentrating on form as well as speed, and Nordic Walking has totally sorted my arms! I’m all for sharing the trails and pavements.

Reason no 3: You can have adventures and really see your fitness progressing As a beginner you should be building towards a pace of 15 minutes a mile, covering around 3 miles in 45 minutes. You can get a pedometer or mobile app that will tell you how far and how fast you’re walking. Master power walking and you can hit a 10 minute mile! Add interval training to your walks to increase your speed. Walk faster to one lamppost, normal speed to the next, then speed it up again. This will make you faster week on week. Once a month, time yourself walking a mile as a benchmark – over time, you’ll be able to see how your speed and walking fitness has improved. There are lots of beautiful places to walk really close to your home. Ask a friend to go on some routefinding adventures. Websites like have routes in your area that other people have mapped and if you browse on Amazon there are lots of guidebooks for walkers and ramblers. If you want to add a new dimension to your exercise routine, you should try Nordic Walking! A growing sport in the UK, Nordic Walkers use poles to add an extra dimension, working the arms and

Nordic Walking

back as well as the legs, burning more calories and getting a total body workout. Nordic Walking Poles cost from £45 and to get the most benefit you’ll probably want to be

trained in the proper technique. Visit to find a local instructor. Some, like me, run weekly classes that cater for all levels, providing poles, advice, loads of fun and motivation.

More on health and well-being at

So all you need to kickstart that exercise resolution may be right outside your door. Rachel runs Nordic Walking classes near Maidenhead, to find out more email her at

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New Year, New You

No more new year diets! The team at the Harrison Clinic in Arborfield tell us how to be a naturally slim person forever! We have all got that one friend who has always had the ideal body. She has no issues around food. She probably hasn’t weighed herself since school! Most of us on the other hand don’t have it this easy. We can end up food focused without even realising it. The odd bit off comfort eating. Too many diets, promising we will have a bikini body by Friday! Choosing addictive fast foods because we have such busy lives. ‘Wine time’ to chill down after a stressful day. All these things feel like they serve a purpose but have a negative payback, leaving us heavier, feeling sluggish and ultimately trapped. We all know that going on restrictive diets for a period of time are mostly unsuccessful. We even know what we should be doing but for some reason just don’t! But what we really want is to become our naturally slim friend. We want her genetic code and brain as well as her body, thanks very much! Looking at the research it seems, naturally slim people don’t think about food all day. Researcher David L. Katz, MD, MPH, Yale University School of Medicine found that slim people have a relaxed attitude about food, whereas those who are over-weight are preoccupied by it. How much food? How often? Categorising good food and bad food. Consequently meal time is constantly on the brain. Sound familiar? If we want to move towards living and thinking like our naturally slim friend then these top tips are how to start.

What, how much, and when? (the food bit) Smaller plate? No single type of food makes us gain weight. It’s the portion size that does. Quantity really matters. Over the years we have got used to larger portion sizes through eating out, having several courses, deals at the supermarket, super sizing! Our naturally slim friend does eat less. The smaller plate might be a simple answer to start with. Choose satisfied over stuffed. We should eat until we are satisfied, not until our skin is ripping and we can’t get up from the chair! Eat consciously and slower. Food is our fuel to keep us going not to send us to sleep. We need a lot less food than we think. We truly are what we eat. So what happens if we never eat a thing? Ok point made.  Our bodies are ‘factories’ and our food is fuel and bricks. If we eat healthier food the better our ‘factories’ will run and serve us. We really need to think about the quality of what we put in our precious bodies. Our bodies work so hard for us, we need to treat them well. Think Farmer’s Market rather than Supermarket!


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Our naturally slim friend doesn’t count calories; she doesn’t eat low calorie/low fat alternatives or ban food types. Hunger is not an emergency. Leave time in between meals to actually get hungry. I’m not a fan of snacking for weight loss as it maintains that food obsession. Remember we are trying to make food LESS of a feature. Eat throughout the day and have an early supper. This is when our bodies are most active, so it makes sense. We don’t need THAT much energy to sleep. Drink lots of water. You will need it. A hydrated body is a healthier body.

Get the right mind set (the habits and lifestyle bit) Know your triggers. Naturally slim people don’t cure sadness or stress with cake and Chardonnay! Identify your triggers and have a strategy in place to manage them. Last resort, remove yourself from the problem and go to bed. If that’s not possible, just don’t enter the kitchen. If the problem isn’t true hunger then food isn’t the answer. No seconds. Never! Not even to please the in-laws! Unnecessary. Just wait. We are probably full-up already.  Crisps, nuts, nibbles, bread baskets before dinner. No!  Stop staring at the fridge. Take all your clothes off and stare in the mirror instead. Works for me every time! Leave some food on the plate. Naturally slim people have self-control. This is a great way to start developing it.  Be active. Naturally slim people are movers and shakers. And be adventurous, if we hate the gym let’s not join one. How about wall climbing? Mountain biking? Open water swimming? Pole dancing classes (loads of them in Berkshire)! It’s really important that we enjoy what we do for activity, we should be looking forward to it, not dreading it. Netball, Hockey, Gymnastics, Salsa class? Or how about Nordic Walking? Find out more about this excellent exercise on page 22. Why not make 2014 the year we try out NEW things? We could be competing in triathlons before we know it. It is possible, I have a mummy friend approaching fifty who competed in the world Duathlon championships this year in Canada. All these sports have age and level appropriate classes and competitions. Start searching for your thing, it is out there. Lastly, think thin. Make this a priority, until it becomes part of you. If we do just one or two of the above things, our habits will change for the better.  These tips are a new way of life, not a fad! The added bonus is feeling your energy levels soar throughout 2014! To find out how The Harrison Clinic can help you with a wide range of health and well-being issues, visit or call 0118 976 2253.


New Year, New You

by Gabriella Starkey

New Year’s Resolutions for all the family Photo courtesy National Trust

The secret behind keeping your New Year’s resolutions is not to aim too high – the more realistic and do-able the resolution, the easier it’ll be to keep it. This year, resolve to make one or more small changes that will bring your family together and give you a stronger, more positive outlook as a group. Here are a few of our favourites. Eat together There are so many proven benefits of eating a regular family meal together, from better manners to happier kids. Turn off the TV and mobile phones and concentrate on talking, laughing and sharing – even if it’s only once a week, for Sunday lunch.

Make one night of the week Family Games Night The humble board game has many benefits - it brings the family together, it teaches sharing, counting and turn-taking, and most of all it’s fun! Wean the children off their screens for one night and get them around a table, and you should soon see an improvement in everyone’s mood.

Stop shouting! No-one likes to be shouted at, and no-one likes to live in an angry atmosphere, so make the change yourself. Resolve to keep your cool and talk out any problems. Anger only breeds resentment, which can lead to long-term family

rifts - talking, in contrast, leads to better understanding and closer families.

Focus on the positive Resolve to look on the bright side in 2014 – it’s better for you and sets a great example. Seeing the silver lining to every cloud helps people cope and doesn’t need to be unrealistic.

Get outdoors It’s been proven that playing and learning outdoors has profound benefits for children, but most of them don’t have the freedom that was taken for granted just a generation ago. Get outdoors as much as you can and improve your family’s health and wellbeing. Why not join the National Trust and take advantage of



WIN a treatment of your choice

The team at The Harrison Clinic provide a broad spectrum of treatments and our competition winner can select one of their choice to start off the new year. From cranial osteopathy, physiotherapy and acupuncture to specialist massage and nutritional consultation, there is a host of quality treatments from experienced practitioners for you to choose from. For more information call 0118 9762253 or visit To enter just visit today. Closing date 7 February

their gorgeous grounds? You could even take a leaf out of the book of Tim and Kerry Meek, from Nottingham, who set their two daughters (aged 8 and 10) 100 challenges, such as canoeing down a river and sleeping under the stars. Their inspirational blog is at

Take on a charity challenge Give any fitness goals a boost by getting the family involved in a team challenge for charity. Not sure what to do or who to support? Try or UK-challenges The idea of raising money for a worthy cause will help you all pull together through the tough bits.

RECRUITING NOW Successful ‘Business Mum’ is seeking 5 working partners to work part-time from home, alongside & without compromising family commitments or current career. If you have a supervisory, managerial, sales, marketing, recruitment or a self-employed background or you wish to develop an extraordinary lifestyle,

please call Mandee Lal 01753 202 257

More on health and well-being at

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Baby Page


Sima’s Action kids classes Fun & Fitness for under 5’s Sima’s unique bubbly personality and unlimited energy levels makes her the ideal person to keep the children entertained and active at all times by singing, dancing & playing active games

Sima's Action Kids parties for under 6's Sima's dance parties for under 11's Sima's dicso bop & karaoke parties for under 11's call me: 07956993439 or email me at

Do you  feel  a  sense  of  frustration    or  failure  surrounding  any  aspect     of  giving  birth?   Do  you  feel  helpless,  guilty,  alone  or   overwhelmed  by  motherhood?   I  help  mums  to  feel  valued,   acknowledged,  manage  their   expectations  and  recognize     their  self-­‐worth  

07811 907911 www.facebook/HopeBirthandBeyond  

Aquanatal classes at the Royal Berks Mums-to-be who are looking for a safe way to exercise may be interested in the Aquanatal classes being run by physiotherapists Helen Knight and Natalie Redfern in central Reading. Sessions are held in the warm water of the hydrotherapy pool at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and are suitable for pregnant women from 12 weeks onwards. Some women also come back post-natally. Helen and Natalie told us of some of the benefits of their classes: • “The water gives a sense of well-being and relaxation and women often report having more energy and being able to sleep better after the sessions. • The supportive nature of water allows a

greater freedom of movement and reduces the risk of injury. • The hydrostatic pressure from the water may help with swelling especially in legs, stimulate bowel function and improve respiratory function. • The exercises can improve abdominal tone and posture. • Aquanatal classes have been proven to reduce pain intensity and sick leave as a result of back and pelvic pain during pregnancy.” Sessions run on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and cost £6.50, or £32.50 for a block of 6 sessions. To find out more, email Natalie and Helen at or call them on 07736 328 088.

Hope, Birth and Beyond Catherine Evans specialises in supporting women before, during and after pregnancy. She uses a combination of hypnosis and counselling, as well as drawing on her own experiences as a nurse and midwife, to help with a wide range of issues such as stress and anxiety, fertility problems, quitting smoking and depression. Women who are struggling to conceive are helped to explore their thoughts and clear the blocks that may be preventing them from achieving


their dream. And those who are pregnant are guided to experience a calm and relaxed

Catherine Evans

pregnancy and to feel in control during childbirth. Catherine also help mums who feel a sense of frustration or failure regarding any aspect of childbirth; or who feel helpless, guilty, alone and overwhelmed to feel acknowledged, manage their expectations and recognize their self-worth. To find out more, take a look at Catherine’s website www., call her on 07811 907911 or email Catherine@

We're having a Ball! For details and availability call: 0118 328 23 21 (Little Kickers Reading & Wokingham)

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


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Baby Page

Babes Recruiting for the Babylab The Babylab is based at Birbeck College in central London and has, for the past 15 years, been busy figuring out how babies talk and walk and, more importantly, why some babies and children struggle with reaching these milestones. Researchers there have shown that even at 6 months of age, infants that later develop symptoms of autism have difficulties interpreting another person’s gaze direction. This may explain why they later struggle with language, as gaze direction often tells infants what it is that we are talking about. The Babylab have just launched a new study - STAARS (Studying Autism and ADHD Risk in Siblings) - which will follow the development of children that are at genetic risk for two common developmental disorders – autism and ADHD.  Families from all over the country that have an older child with autism and/or ADHD and a new baby are invited to join this study at any point between finding out they are pregnant and until their baby is 14 months of age. The babies will visit the Babylab a few times until their 3rd birthday and whilst there take part in a variety of studies. If they are tired they can have a nap while their parents fill in questionnaires or discuss their child’s development with the team of researchers. At the end of each visit children will receive a Babylab participation diploma and a very fashionable t-shirt (like the one Harry is wearing in the photo)! The Babylab reimburses all travel costs.  By studying these babies’ development early in

most help! If you are expecting a baby or have just given birth please do not hesitate to contact the Babylab about the STAARS Study if you have an older child with autism and/or ADHD. Find out more at or by calling 0207 079 0761.

life researchers will better understand how autism and ADHD develop, and this will help to diagnose these disorders earlier, and provide earlier and more effective interventions. Researchers at the Babylab work hard to design clever and fun studies but, ultimately, it is the babies that are of

NCT launches more affordable courses NCT is now offering shorter, more affordable antenatal courses called NCT Essentials, designed to meet the needs of busy parents

and parents on a budget. The new classes will be more structured than traditional NCT courses, and are designed to equip new

parents with important information and tips for early parenting. NCT worked with the Department of Health to develop the courses to support parents not just through the process of birth but through the crucial ‘First 1,000 Days’ – the period from pregnancy until your child’s 2nd birthday.  Areas covered over the six structured two-hour sessions will include the impact of birth on relationships, feeding and nutrition, and birth and labour. The cost of the course starts from £110 for a couple or £70 for a new mum attending alone.  These new courses will sit alongside traditional NCT Signature antenatal courses. Signature courses focus more on preparation for birth and are more bespoke, designed around the needs of the mums and dads taking part. All NCT courses are led by specially trained practitioners.  To find out more about all NCT courses go to

More pregnancy articles at

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Family Holidays

Photo olesiabilkei

How to have a ‘proper’ holiday when you’re parents

Everything changes when you have children, and nothing more than your annual holiday. But there are still ways to feel as though you’ve had a break, says mother-offour Joanna Moorhead. It’s still got the same name, but once you’ve got children your fortnight in the sun isn’t really a holiday any more. Not a holiday as you once knew it, anyway. Gone are the days when you could laze around a pool all day, with no bigger decision than how early in the day to have your first beer; gone, too, the days when you could party through the night and stay in bed until 11am if you wanted. No: once you have kids, what a holiday actually means is more work than usual, with a different backdrop. Why more? Well, there are new hazards to negotiate, especially if your children are tiny (windows they could fall out of, swimming pools they could fall into, the need to be on constant watch for different dangers). And, unlike at home, you don’t have your usual safety nets in place to make things easier: no childminder, no friends round the corner, no teenage babysitter down the street, no playgroup. What’s a time-starved couple, who still like the idea that a holiday might deliver them some time together a deux, some time alone to ruminate and read, and the occasional opportunity to try out watersports or the spa, to do? The good news is, there are ways round the difficulties. The caveat is, none of them are problem-free.


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Solution number one: Take the grandparents

Solution number three: Take a paid childcarer

The pros: They’re free! Grandparents pay their own way on holiday (well, most do) – and some are even going to treat you quite a bit while you’re away. I’m joking, of course: grandparents are a cost-cutting way of making your holiday more like a holiday; but the main advantage of them is they genuinely love your children, and they’re going to enjoy being with them, and vice versa.

The pros: You’re paying, so you get to call the shots. You want a few free hours every afternoon, or two nights out in the week – you’ll get them. Your childcarer, unlike friends or grandparents, has taken this on as a job, and is likely to have experience and ideas up her sleeve about how to keep your kids occupied.

The cons: Not everyone has a great relationship with their parents or parents-inlaw. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether you’d have holidayed with them before you had kids. If the answer is absolutely not, maybe think again.

Solution number two: Have a shared holiday with another family The pros: You can’t get out as much once you’ve got kids, so taking friends means you’ve got built-in entertainment. If you’re selfcatering, you’ll find you can get a better deal on a luxurious big property – your money goes further, in other words. And, of course, the big advantage is that your kids will have friends too. The cons: You thought you knew your friends but believe me – you’re going to know them a whole lot better once you’ve holidayed with them. And you might not like everything about them. In fact you’re almost guaranteed to have the odd quibble – and maybe an allout row (especially over children and how you deal with them). Are you sure your friendship can stand it?

The cons: It’s going to be expensive – you’ll have to pay for your carer’s flights, living expenses, and a salary (or pocket money if you’re taking an au pair). A paid carer means you’ll have a ‘stranger’ on holiday with you. It might be hard to get family time away from the carer, especially as she won’t know anyone where you’re going and might not want to explore the resort on her own.

Solution number four: Go somewhere with a kids’ club The pros: A kids’ club will provide supervised activities for the children for part of the day, usually organised by age group so the activities are suitable. Your children have the opportunity to make new friends, and these friendships can spill out of the kids’ club to provide playmates for your children when you’re by the pool or on the beach as well. Kids’ clubs don’t have to add hugely to the expense of a holiday, especially if your children are past babyhood (clubs for infants invariably cost more because of the higher adult-to-child ratios). The cons: Sometimes there is limited availability so make sure you check out how to book in advance or, if the club is run on a drop in basis, make sure you arrive early. Clubs can vary in quality and the age ranges they cater for, so do as much research as you can into exactly what’s provided: the key ingredient is that your children enjoy the club, and want to go there.


Family Holidays

A visit to the home of LEGO

Wendy Flynn tells us about her family trip to Billund in Denmark. “Epic!” That in a nutshell was my 11-year-old’s verdict on our weekend away in Billund – home to the original Legoland resort; Scandinavia’s largest Aquadome, Lalandia; and nearby Givskud Zoo. Legoland and Lalandia are right beside one another and between the Legoland Park rides and the Aquadome slides, this is child heaven. Once you land everything is on tap, from play areas to child-friendly restaurants, so for parents of children aged 2-12 who want a hassle-free holiday or short-break away, this certainly ticks all the boxes. Before heading to the Park we booked into our accommodation - a light, airy and pleasant self-catering holiday home at Lalandia resort which opened out onto a veranda, perfect for barbecues. If your chalet is not ready when you arrive, you can store your luggage in lockers at the Centre and get going. For the duration of your stay, you have free entry to the Aquadome tropical aquapark and to the Monky Tonky indoor play area. There is also Winter World (ice-skating, ski slope, toboggan hill, and climbing wall) on site, as well as a fitness centre, bowling, mini-golf, giant high-jump trampolines and a fun arcade.

Danish charm But, to start with, we headed straight across the road to Legoland, a slightly smaller version of the Windsor one, but with added Danish charm. We began with a gentle stroll around Miniland with its fascinating scenes from countries around the world. Then on to the rides - as you travel further into the park the toddler rides give way to more exciting rides like the Dragon ride starting as a sedate train ride through the knight’s castle with its life-size Lego models, before speeding up and ending with a roller coaster flourish, or the water

ride where you meander along a water flume before a splashing finale as you plunge to the finish. Compete to see who can shoot the most targets with a laser gun in the Egyptian tomb, then head to Polar Land to see the penguins and ride on Polar Xpress – a free-fall snow mobile rollercoaster with a top speed of 65 miles an hour and some stomach churning drops. I selflessly allowed the children to enjoy this one solo! The park never felt too crowded, and the queues were all quite short (we were there in June), which made for a comfortable day out. But, most of the rides closed at 5 and the park shut at 7, so in hindsight it would have been better to start at the end and work our way backwards to make most use of the time.

Fact file • Legoland Billund ( is open from 5 April until 2 November 2014, Givskud Zoo ( from 12 April until 20 October and Lalandia ( is open all year round. • At Lalandia expect to pay between £175 per night to £218 per night for a selfcatering chalet for 4 people. Legoland Hotel offers overnight accommodation including breakfast and 2 day admission to Legoland from £245. For budget accommodation near to Legoland Billund try • A one day family pass to Legoland Billund costs around £100. Day entry to Lalandia Aquadome is approx. £25 (adults) and £19 (3-11yrs). Entrance to Givskud Zoo with Safari Bus tour costs £22 (adults) and £15 (3-11yrs).

Lots more holiday ideas at

In the evening we shared a bottle of wine on our veranda, before heading back to Lalandia Plazato to eat in Café Bambino, a buffet style restaurant with options to suit us all. On finishing their meals – or to be more accurate in between courses - the children disappeared off to explore the play areas, giving the adults much-needed down time while the never-flagging children tried out the high jump trampolines.

Visiting the zoo Day 2 saw us heading for Givskud Zoo, a nearby Safari Park, which is the second largest in Denmark. If you stay at Legoland Hotel or Lalandia resort, you can pay an upgrade fee for a pass to cover all three destinations on your holiday, and I would recommend it. Our tour guide AK really made the trip worthwhile – having a wealth of knowledge about all the animals at the Zoo. In the afternoon we were back at the Aquadome – with the children hurtling down slides – including the total tornado, playing water basketball, walking on water, and loving it! Our second night was spent at the four-star Legoland Resort Hotel which has some Legothemed pirate, princess and adventure rooms. We stayed in a superior family room (works out slightly cheaper than the themed rooms) but has more space and a view over the Legoland park. The hotel is designed to engage children with its Lego play-rooms, a Wii room with consoles, and games room but balances that with a luxurious feel for parents. In the morning guests have direct access to the park from the hotel, and we made good use of this on our final morning. By 2pm we were heading back to the airport to catch our return flight and were home in time to get ready for work on Monday. But, what a fantastic long-weekend for children … and for any parents who are lucky enough to go along for the ride!

Thames Valley West


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Bucklebury Farm Park offers a magical experience in the beautiful Berkshire countryside close to the picturesque village of Bucklebury. With a deer park, farm animals, adventure playground, tractor rides and den building there will be a lot to keep the children busy when it reopens on 1st February. Younger visitors can also enjoy the “Pat a Pet” area. Don’t forget a visit to the Barn Café to enjoy a tasty snack. Enter our competition to win 5 tickets for a great day out.

Come and enjoy an action packed day out at Beale Park Wildlife Park & Gardens, Lower Basildon in Berkshire, when the Park opens its doors for the start of a new season on the 11th February.

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For your chance to win a family day ticket to the Park (2 adults & 2 children), you need to be a bit of a detective!

Visit their website and find out when in November the Baby Alpaca was born. For more information call 0844 826 1761 or visit To enter just visit competitions today. Closing date 7 February



To enter just visit competitions today. Closing date 7 February

Over 90 hands-on science and nature activities. Leave your shadow on the wall, make a mini animation, build an unfinished house, create circuits or launch the hot air balloon and much more. Lots of fun for all the family, particularly under 12’s. At weekends, fantastic science shows! Plus, 1,000 hectares of woodland, adventure play area, picnic area, and coffee and gift shops. Just off M4/J10 or M3, J3. For more information call 01344 354400 or visit

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Personal Development

Break out of your comfort zone in 2014

Fiona Clark, career and confidence coach from Inspired Mums, gives her top tips on trying something new this year and achieving greater levels of success and happiness. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve ever received was from a boss years ago who said, ‘take opportunities that come your way – even if that opportunity scares you a little – have no regrets.’ I have always tried to hold that advice dear as I’ve made decisions through my personal and work life. But it’s not always been easy. As we grow older, it can become even more tempting to stay within your comfort zone – that place where you operate on ‘autopilot’ and feel at ease. Sometimes this can be a good thing – it can protect us from taking on too much and getting stressed. But your comfort zone can also become your enemy if it stops you from trying new experiences and adding excitement to your life. Mums in particular are often so busy juggling the responsibilities of family, household and work that it’s easy to stick with what you know. For many of us it can feel ‘indulgent’ to focus on our own needs and take up a new hobby or interest so instead we keep the status quo. But as Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, tells us, ‘Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone saying yes means that you will do something new, meet someone new, and make a difference. Yes is what keeps us all young.’


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So is your comfort zone holding you back? Take a moment to answer these simple questions to find out. • Do you talk yourself out of something before you’ve even tried? • Do you often feel bored and unfulfilled and want more in your life? • Do you come up with lots of excuses that stop you taking action? (such as ‘I’ve got no-one to look after the kids’ or ‘I haven’t got enough time’) • Do you feel stuck in a rut at work? • Do you suffer from anxiety when you consider change? • Are you envious of other people who try new things? If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above then it might be time to take a few steps out of your comfort zone into your stretch zone – the place where you learn best and feel most fulfilled when you succeed. Here are my 5 top tips to help you break out of your comfort zone and live your best life!

1. Face your fears – without pushing yourself into ‘panic zone’ Perhaps you run your own business and feel nervous about going to networking events on your own. Challenge yourself to go to one, low-key event and promise yourself you will turn up, smile at people and say ‘hi’. You’ll be surprised what a smile can do to open a conversation!

2. Imagine positive outcomes Often when we are feeling insecure we imagine worst-case scenarios when in fact the reality is much

better. Try to visualise the situation going really well and you will be surprised how this boosts your confidence.

3. Use the past to propel you forward Look back at when you have stepped out of your comfort zone – and what you have achieved as a result. Did you take an evening course or a dance class? Remember – how great you felt once you’d signed up and learnt a new skill?

4. Accept that nobody is perfect Sometimes what holds us back is worrying about what others may think of us. Usually we set our own ridiculously high standards. Give yourself permission to do something for you, out of the ordinary, without worrying about what others think.

5. Spend time with someone more adventurous than you naturally are Energy is contagious – your friend’s enthusiasm for new experiences may rub off on you! The best thing about moving into your stretch zone is that your comfort zone will expand over time so that you feel comfortable and confident doing all those new things. Final thought: Don’t regret chances you didn’t take, relationships you were afraid to have, and decisions you waited too long to make – because it’s never too late to start living a more adventurous life. Make 2014 your year of saying ‘yes’ to opportunities that come your way! If you are interested in 1-2-1 coaching to help you move from your comfort zone to your stretch zone, please contact or phone 07789 597 209.

Competition Winners from November/December issue South Hill Park tickets: Jane Brigham The Hexagon tickets: Deborah Lewis, Libby Killoran Towelsoft bathrobes: Clare Borsberry Harrison Clinic nutritional consultation: Amy Lambourne Land’s End £100 voucher: Lina Kiang

Need a New Year energy boost -

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Maths & English tuition centre For 5 to 14 year olds of all abilities • Courses mapped to the National Curriculum. • Adapts to the individual needs of your child. • Convenient for families - Open 7 days a week. • Award-winning tuition - voted Education Investor Supplementary Education Provider of the Year. “Explore Learning members’ improvement in maths was 30% higher than that of the comparison group after controlling for gender, age, year group and special educational needs.” Independent Efficacy Study by the Institute of Education at Reading University (2013). See

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Open Mornings Tuesday 28 January 9.15am - 11.00am Thursday 20 March 9.15am - 11.00am For entry into the Prep School from age 3 upwards To reserve your place at an Open Morning please call the Registrar on 0118 984 6918 or email Alternatively you can book online at Printed by Warners Midlands Plc. Copyright Families Thames Valley West December 2013. 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 69 Jan – Feb 2014  

Families TVW is the really useful magazine for parents of 0-12 years old. This is our New Year edition.

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