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WINTER 2010

December what’s on

BEARSTED WOODLANDS

Rain or Shine days out

WIN family tickets to the Panto

free plea se a co take py

Children’s

Centres

IN MAIDSTONE Local News

What’s On ● Maternity

Parenting ● School days


Learning - Parties - Playground - Football - Dreams

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2 www.kentfamilymagazine.co.uk


Hello Maidstone! those low cost activities that not everyone knows about. Independently written articles for parents, all with that essential local flavour, are what makes Kent Family magazine special.

Back in 2006, whilst taking my son to swimming lessons in Medway, I would pick up a copy of this magazine and think ‘what a great and informative magazine, we need one of these for Maidstone!’ Then in 2009 a Maidstone edition was launched. As a Maidstone mum, I have joined the editorial team to help provide more information on news, events, groups and services local to Maidstone. By keeping my eyes and ears open, I hope to keep abreast of what is going on and find out about local activities, especially

Next issue

deadline 18th feb out 12th March www.kentfamily magazine.co.uk Kent family Magazine group

So please help me to make the Maidstone issue even more informative by letting me know of any groups or events that you think parents-to-be or those with children up to age 16 will enjoy. Please call me on 01634 814364 or email maidstone@ kentfamily.co.uk In this issue, as we approach the colder weather and the run up to Christmas festivities, we share with you the wealth of services provided by the local Children’s Centres, encourage you to explore the natural woodlands of Bearsted, as well as plenty of ideas for days out, this season’s pantomimes and local news. Best wishes

Sue Lyons Maidstone Editor

37,000 copies given to parents-to-be and families in Medway, Maidstone and Kent. Green mama cic, publisher of Kent Family, is an independent not-for-profit organisation. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of details in this publication, we cannot accept responsibility for such. Views expressed by contributors and advertisers do not necessarily reflect those of the editors and publishers. Articles and advertisements created by us are copyright of green mama cic and may not be reproduced without prior consent.

Contents 4

Happily ever after

8

Discover Bearsted’s natural woodlands

10 What’s on this Christmas

14 Budget-friendly days out

16 Maidstone news 20 Big fun in Tiny Town

22 Children’s centres

26 Maternity and toddler talk

28 Talking without words

to advertise call:

01634 814364 tell us about your events: events@kentfamily.co.uk Got a story to tell, email: info@kentfamily.co.uk

www.kentfamily magazine.co.uk


Entertainment

Happily ever after! think pantomimes are just for kids? these shows will have adults and children booing, hissing and laughing all the way to the new year.

the Mouse Who saved christmas, Brook theatre, chatham, 6th – 21st dec This magical show is a great alternative to the traditional panto. Specially created for children aged 3 to 6 years this will be the first ever ‘walk through’ production at the Brook Theatre. Multi-sensory sets will be created in the auditorium 4

enabling the audience to visit different scenes and interact with the characters, concluding with a magical finale on the main stage. Each performance lasts approximately 50 minutes and all tickets cost £6.50 (group discounts available). Call the box office on 01634 338338 or visit www. brookchristmas.co.uk

www.kentfamilymagazine.co.uk

Jack and the Beanstalk central theatre, chatham, 10th dec – 2nd January Get ready for some fi-fi-fo-fun with Jack and the Beanstalk at The Central Theatre, Chatham. Paul Burling, who reached the finals of this year's Britain’s Got Talent, will be making a welcome return for his fifth pantomime. Starring alongside Gillingham-born Phil Gallagher, aka Cbeebies’ Mister Maker, will be Emma Barton fresh from West End stage show Chicago. There is plenty of technical wizardry this year – so you can look forward to a really giant giant, a break dancing cow, and a beanstalk that can actually be climbed! Tickets start at £14 for adults and £10 for children. Group discounts and reductions for senior citizens available. Book online via www.medwaypanto.co.uk or call 01634 338338.


Beauty and the Beast hazlitt theatre, Maidstone, 4th dec – 9th Jan Stars of the soaps grace Maidstone’s production of Beauty and the Beast. Melissa Suffield ‘Lucy Beale from Eastenders’ plays Beauty and Ben Freeman ‘Scott Windsor from Emmerdale’ as the Prince, star alongside Danielle McCormack from

‘My Parents are Aliens’. Director Guy Pascall said: “We’ve got plenty of great comedy routines, a live band and some fantastic singers in the show; in fact Ben Freeman was recently in the West End smashhit musical ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’!” Tickets range from £6.95 to £12.50. Call 01622 758611 or book online at www. hazlittartscentre.co.uk cinderella Woodville halls, Gravesend, 15th dec – 3rd Jan The Queen of Clean Kim Woodburn will by playing the Fairy Godmother in this year’s family favourite, Cinderella. The show also stars Coronation Street star Tom Hudson as Dandini and Chelsie Padley as Cinderella, who plays Louise in CBBCs ‘The Story of Tracy Beaker’. Prices start from £9 per child and £14.50 for adults. Family of 4 tickets from £44. Discounted rates for groups, ages 60+ and wheelchair users. Book via www.woodvillehalls. com or call the box office on 01474 337774.

Win

Fa mi Pa ly nto Tic fo r a ket chan fa m i s c e to ly t i loca ckets to s win l sho e l ec com ws enter ted p et i t ou r i page on on 16.

Peter Pan on dinosaur island Kings theatre, chatham 19th dec – 20th april The best selling children's theatre company at the Fringe for the last five years, Spotlites @ Kings Theatre are famous for their fabulous interactive theatre for kids who don’t just want to sit still and watch! In this year’s offbeat production of ‘Peter Pan on Dinosaur Island’, children can: hunt Pirates with the T-Rex; bombard Captain Hook with dinosaur droppings; ambush Pirates with real swords! Kids come onstage throughout! Tickets £6.50, £5.50 and £22 per family. See www. spotlites.co.uk for details – book on 01634 829468. to advertise call 01634 814364 5


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Days out

Discover

Bearsted’s Natural Woodlands By Sue Lyons

Explore the natural woodlands of Bearstead for some fresh air, exercise and family fun. Bearstead Woodland Trust

The Bearsted Woodland Trust was established by volunteers to protect and maintain 16 acres of beautiful woodland and meadow; land they rescued from a proposed housing development. The trust has provided an excellent recreational space and is restoring and enhancing a natural habitat for animals and plant life. It is funded by local donations and has won several awards and grants to continue its work of preserving and establishing this beautiful woodland for the community.

provides a safe place for children getting to grips with cycling and scooting! Why not make your visit educational too, by getting your children to identify the trees,

What’s there?

The area is a fabulous place to relax and unwind; you really do feel you are away from it all amongst the wide variety of English native trees, wild flowers and grasses. It is the ideal place to head for a gentle walk or cycle, or to run around with kites, dogs, balls, bikes or scooters. There are a network of paths, which makes it very buggy-friendly, and 8 www.kentfamilymagazine.co.uk

The highlight for the children is the adventure playground, designed for ages 4-12 years. Obstacle courses, slides and climbing areas make it challenging. It also has the much-loved basket swing to keep several children, and parents on pushing duty,

plants, birds, flowers and insects they see around them, using the illustrated information boards and tree plaques.

Wintery woodland fun

It is a lovely place to go at any time of year. You can enjoy the spring blossoms, autumnal colours and in winter when occupied for what seems like hours. There are many benches to rest on and ideal spots for picnics or an impromptu game of cricket or football. The children’s open maze is also a favourite that my son loves to solve on his scooter as fast as he can!


the snow falls, this is the first place we head with sledges, snow boards and cameras. The abundance of snow last winter made this a magical winter playground, providing many photo opportunities as well as excellent toboggan runs on the paths and grassy slopes.

Exercise for you

Getting there

Bearstead Woodland Trust is situated on the A20 Ashford Road. The main entrance is opposite the Bearsted Bowls Club on Church Landway (pedestrian only) and there are also entrances next to the Holy Cross Church at the end of Church Lane (where there is a car park), at the end of Sutton Street and on the A20 Ashford Road.

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s, s, puzzle F o r ma p n t s a n d hu t r e as u r e ab o u t t h e n io t informa ivities visit t c a land Trust’s tedwood s r a e .b w w w trust.org

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When the kids are at school or playgroup, you can join the exercise class on Tuesday and Friday mornings and enjoy exercising in the fresh air. Run by personal trainers Tracy Rice and Steve Thomas they include circuits, weights, skipping, jogging, boxing and team games. For more details, call Steve on 07963 701263 or Tracy on 07845 993874.

to advertise call 01634 814364 9


What’s on

this Christmas it’s time to get festive. and with so many great activities at museums, country parks and local visitor attractions there’s something for every budget. 2nd–24th dec narnia-themed christmas, hever castle, nr sevenoaks Hever Castle will be transformed into a Narniathemed winter wonderland, meet Santa and have a festive donkey ride. Special evening entertainment on 9th, 10th, 16th and 17th December 5.30–9pm where you can witness the castle lit up, sing carols and meet Father Christmas. Admission prices apply. www.hevercastle.co.uk 3rd-5th dec christmas tree exhibition, st Peter & st Paul church aylesford. A display of up to 70 Christmas trees submitted by voluntary groups, businesses and individuals. Adults £2, under 16s free. Call 01622 717434. saturday 4th dec tree dressing, shorne Woods country Park, nr Gravesend 10am–12noon, Make decorations for the trees at Shorne. Ages 5–12 years. Under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. £1. Booking required on 01474 823800. saturday 4th and sunday 5th dec dickensian christmas, rochester free Street fairs, entertainment, family activities. And festive German Market in the

Castle grounds. The highlight is a carol concert outside Rochester Cathedral complete with fake snow. For more details and to view an online brochure visit www. whatsonmedway.co.uk sunday 5th dec tree dressing family fun day at yalding Gardens A celebration of trees with the ageold custom of tree dressing. Drop-in sessions between 10am-12noon and 1-3pm. Free activity when you pay to enter the gardens. www.yaldinggardens.org sunday 5th dec light up a life at the friars, aylesford Priory, 4.30pm Heart of Kent Hospice candle light procession to the main shrine followed by a carol service and refreshments. 6th–24th dec christmas at leeds castle, nr Maidstone See the Castle’s rooms decorated with scenes inspired by classical pantomimes. Special events taking place include meet Father Christmas (11th, 12th, 16th-24th), take magical evening tours of the castle with pantomime characters (15th, 17th, 20th, 22nd) and see Chapterhouse Theatre Company’s performance of A Christmas Carol (10th, 11th, 12th). Pre-booking for special events essential, call 01622 880008. www.leeds-castle.com


Saturday 11th Dec Christmas Cookie Decorating at Yalding Gardens, 10-11.30am and 1-2.30pm Family fun workshops to learn how to beautifully ice cookies to have at Christmas or to give as gifts. An expert is on hand to show the adults and also help the kids make their own sticky treat. Children £2 (non members) £1.50 (members), adults £4 (non members) £3.50 (members) 11th–12th, 18th–19th Dec Father Christmas in his Medieval Grotto, Bodiam CastleMeet Father Christmas in his wonderful medieval grotto where all children receive a special gift. £7.50. Call Bodiam Castle on 01580 830196. 11th–12th, 18th–23rd Dec Magical Christmas at Rare Breed Centre, near Ashford One man pantomime shows, Santa’s magic post box, enchanted grotto with Santa and his helpers, stories and songs. Carols in the barn with the Salvation Army on 19th December. www.rarebreeds.org.uk Tuesday 14th Dec Santa Fun Run, Kings Hill Community Centre, 1pm start

In aid of the Heart of Kent Hospice. For details or to join the race call 01622 790195.

Mon 20th Dec Make Victorian Pomanders, Maidstone Museum 10.30am–12.30pm and 1.30–3.30pm. Make your own Victorian Christmas decoration. Under 12s. £2 per child. No booking required. Monday 20th Dec Make Natural Christmas Decorations at Yalding Gardens. 10am-12noon and 1-3pm. Make natural decorations from pine cones and willow. For under 12s but all ages are welcome. £2 each

Tuesday 21st Dec Santa at the Park, Riverside Country Park, Rainham 1-4pm. Meet Santa and receive a small gift, plus arts and crafts activities including decorating your own wish list. Book by 11th December on 01634 337432, £2.50 per child. Also at Capstone Farm on Wednesday 22nd December, 1–4pm, book in advance on 01634 338191. Tuesday 21st Dec Make Reindeer Glove Puppets, Maidstone Museum 10.30am–12.30pm and 1.30–3.30pm, Make a Rudolf the Reindeer glove puppet. Under 12s. £2 per child. No booking required. Tuesday 21st Dec Make a Christmas Card at Yalding Gardens. 10am-12noon and 1-3pm. Drop-in Christmas themed activity sessions recommended for the under 12’s but all ages are welcome. £2 each Wednesday 22nd Dec Victorian Calendars, Maidstone Museum 10.30am–12.30pm and 1.30pm– 3.30pm, Create a calendar to give as a gift, or to keep. Under 12s. £2 per child. No booking required. Wednesday 22nd Dec Make a ‘Santa Stop Here’ Sign at Yalding Gardens. 10am-12noon and 1-3pm. Drop-in Christmas themed activity sessions recommended for the under 12’s but all ages are welcome. £2 each Wednesday 22nd Dec Christmas Carol Concert, St Marys Church, West Malling, 7.15pm.

In aid of the Heart of Kent Hospice. Tickets available on the

door but advance booking is advised on 01622 790195. Tickets are free but donations are welcome.

Sunday 26th December Boxing Day Walk, Shorne Woods Country Park 11am–1pm. Join the warden team on this 2 hour guided walk. Enjoy the fresh winter air and burn off some of those Christmas calories. The walk will cover 4–5 miles. £3.50 per person. Booking required on 01474 823 800. 26th Dec–3rd Jan The Christmas Trail, Leeds Castle Blow away the cobwebs after Christmas following pantomime character clues through the grounds with a reward for children completing the trail. Normal admission prices apply plus an additional £1 for the trail. 27th – 31st Dec Medieval Myths and Legends, Dover Castle Take part in the Christmas Quest and enjoy storytelling in the Great Tower. Usual admission prices apply. www. english-heritage.org.uk Saturday 1st Jan New Year’s Day Walk, Shorne Woods Country Park 12.00–1.30pm, £3.50. Join the warden for a New Year’s guided walk and enjoy the fresh winter air. The walk will last approximately 1.5 hours. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Booking required on 01474 823 800.

Tell us about your events for inclusion in our upcoming issues! email details to: events@kentfamily.co.uk While we make every effort to ensure times, dates, prices and details are correct, please call the location in advance to confirm these.

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Days Out

Budget-friendly days out After the Xmas excesses, there are still plenty of local low-cost activities to get you out and about, whatever the weather.

a Blast of sea air Whilst winter might not seem like the obvious time to head for the coast. If it’s a crisp, dry day the sea can make a refreshing change from the hussle and bustle of town. Seaside resorts that are often packed in summer, suddenly have easy parking and a tranquility that allows you to fully soak up the boutique shops, cafes and sea air. Whitstable, Broadstairs and Folkstone are all ideal places for a Sunday morning stroll followed by a hot chocolate in a cafe. Visit www. canterbury.co.uk and www.visitthanet.co.uk to find out about local events and attractions. Further afield Camber Sands in East Sussex is excellent for kite flying followed by a trip to nearby Rye, with its eclectic range of shops and eateries. Or head to historic Hastings for the aquarium, lifeboat museum and amusements. 14

www.kentfamilymagazine.co.uk

e n i h S r o n i a R hands on history Maidstone Museum and Rochester’s Guildhall Museum are places where history truly does come to life. At Rochester’s Guildhall Museum children can hear, smell and see what life was like in the prison hulk ships that were moored in the Medway, enter Victorian room settings and listen to extracts from Samuel Pepys' diary. At Maidstone Museum visitors can dress in fashions from yesteryear, hear dinosaurs roar and peer at a 2,700 year old Egyptian mummy. Further afield is the RAF Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum at Manston near Ramsgate. Also free of charge, the museum houses two examples of the legendary Spitfire and Hurricane fighter aircraft and hundreds of artefacts relating to the Dambusters. For details visit www.spifirememorial.org.uk


cineMa deals Cineworld cinemas in Rochester and Ashford both run ‘Movies for Juniors’ – a special Saturday morning screening where tickets are just £1 each. You won’t see the latest blockbuster, but if you missed a film that came out a few months ago then it’s a great way to get the cinema experience without spending a fortune. The added bonus for parents is that there are often no trailers – so you can arrive at the start time and enjoy watching the film straight away. Odeon Cinemas in Maidstone and Chatham Dockside also screen selected 'Odeon Kids' films at weekends which cost £2.50 per ticket with a free ticket for an accompanying adult.

a WalK in the ParK Experience the changing seasons at some of the many country parks in Kent. Attractions such as Shorne Woods, Capstone Park and Riverside are popular choices. But why not explore some of the less well-known country parks such as Jeskyns near Gravesend. Owned by the Forestry commission, it has a buggy-friendly walkway with wooden play areas dotted around. And a natural ball pool made from thousands of pinecones. White Horse Wood in Detling has an amazing view over the Kent Downs, a five hectare area of open grassland and a wooded area in which over 20,000 trees have been planted. Whilst there you can explore the medieval ruins of Thurnham Castle and traces of an Iron Age settlement. Details, events and activities can be found at www.kent.gov.uk/kentcountryparks

on your BiKe Whether Santa is delivering a new bike this year or you just want to get out for some fresh air, there are plenty of places where children can cycle. www.sustrans. org.uk and www.kent.gov.uk have sections on cycling routes in Kent. Begdgebury Pinetum near Goudhurst has 10km of newly surfaced family cycle track round the 2,000 acre forest. Parking is £7.50 per car. Closer to home there’s Leybourne Lakes and Rochester Riverside Development, which has a 1.5 mile paved walk/ cycle way alongside the river. to advertise call 01634 814364 15


Maidstone coMPetition

Winter fair

A Family Ticket to Beauty and the Beast We have a family of four ticket up for grabs to this year’s production of Beauty and the Beast at the Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone. For a chance to win tickets; enter online, by email or post. Send your name, address and phone number to: winpanto@kentfamily.co.uk or post your entry to: Win Panto Competition, 91 Maidstone Road, Rochester, ME1 1RL. Or visit our website: www.

kentfamilymagazine.co.uk where there's also the chance to win tickets to shows in Chatham and Gravesend.

Competition rules: Only one entry per family. Open to Kent residents only. Closing date 10th December 2010. Winner will be notified by phone. For full terms and conditions visit our website.

16

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If you haven’t been for a while –Yalding Gardens is definitely worth a return visit. Under new ownership, not only have the gardens and cafe had a revamp and face-lift but there’s now a

Festive Party at Larkabout Larkfield Leisure Centre’s soft play zone, Larkabout, is hosting a special day of Christmas parties on Thursday 23 December. Providing festive fun and games for children aged 10 years and under. There are two sessions, 10am-12noon

wealth of activities and events for families, children and adults. Samantha Edwards, who works with her partner and owner Paul Smith, previously worked for Maidstone Museum and is passionate about encouraging children to explore nature and get creative. They run regular school holiday workshops, special events and even children’s parties. As well as workshops and activities for adults. On Sunday 28th November they are hosting a Christmas Fair. A chance to stock up on gifts, fashion and jewellery and locally-produced food, such as these delightful

for ages 0-3 years, 4-6pm for 4-10 years old. These supervised sessions offer a host of organised seasonal games and activities, plus an opportunity to receive a Christmas gift from Santa, as he takes up residence in his very own Larkabout Winter Grotto. As well as participating in organised activities, youngsters can enjoy adventuring through the three floors of interactive play equipment, including the wavy waterfall slide, crawl tubes, ball pool and ball cannons. Tickets are available from reception; numbers are limited so book early to avoid disappointment. £4.40 per child for under 3s and £5.40 per child for ages 4-10.


Where to see

Father Christmas

father christmas certainly is busy this month! here’s our pick of his packed diary for december.

Kingswood christmas trees meringues. As well as a varied range of creative and delicious products there'll be a hog roast, demonstrations and Father Christmas. Open from 10am6pm. Entrance is free. www.yaldinggardens.org

Wave Rave

It’s party time at Maidstone Leisure Centre too. On Wednesday 22nd December join the poolside team and DJ Sam for a wave rave party of swimming, games, disco lights, music and fun. And for little ones there’s a Christmas toddler party on Thursday 16th December, 10am-12noon. £3 per child. For more details contact the children’s team on 01622 220228.

Pass it on... the deadline for applications for Kent primary school places starting next september is Monday 17th January 2011. apply online at www.kent.gov.uk

Gravelly Bottom Road, Kingswood, Maidstone. free Santa’s Grotto every weekend in December from 10am-4pm. www. christmasatkingswood.co.uk

Larkfield Leisure Centre

Two-hour Christmas party and a chance to meet Santa. Thursday 23rd December. £4.40 for under 3s and £5.40 for ages 4-10. Book in advance at reception.

leeds castle

Pre-booked slots on 11th and 12th Dec and daily from 16th -24th Dec. £8.50 per child including a gift. Booking essential, on 01622 880008.

the Mall, Maidstone

Every day from 13th November to Christmas Eve. £3 per child and includes a gift. All proceeds given to local charities. Post a letter to Santa and get a reply. www.themall.co.uk

notcutts, Weavering

Meet real reindeer, see friendly farm animals and visit Santa in his grotto to receive a special gift. £7.99 per child. www.notcutts.co.uk

royal star arcade

The Heart of Kent Hospice will be running a Christmas shop and Santa’s grotto from 29th November to 24th December. An opportunity to write a wish on a tag and tie it to a Christmas tree for a small donation to the charity. All children receive a present from Santa.

yalding Gardens

Father Christmas will be on hand at their Christmas Fair on 28th November, providing a special gift to children who visit him in his grotto. 10am-6pm. To win 1 of 4 tickets to see Santa at Notcutts, email seesanta@kentfamily.co.uk Closing date 10th December. to advertise call 01634 814364 17


18

www.kentfamilymagazine.co.uk


SPECKLED HEN PHOTOGRAPHY Whether it is capturing your child’s earliest days, a landmark birthday, anniversary or just a reason to get the family together, I will give you a memory to treasure for many years to come. Why not give me a call on 07702 075390 or drop me an email: kim.speckledhenphotography@gmail.com www.speckledhenphotography.co.uk

Gift Vouchers from £25

Special Christmas Offer £50 sitting to include two 10x8 prints VALID UNTIL 31st DECEMBER 2010

Come and Join the Fun!

The award winning movement to music, dance and singing programme for boys and girls from 6 months upwards run within a fun, safe and caring environment.

Classes available in Chatham, Rochester, Strood, Maidstone Contact Miss Diane on

07984 393949

mallingandmedway@babyballet.co.uk

www.babyballet.co.uk

nursery visits and parties also available to advertise call 01634 814364 19


Fun time

Big Fun in Tiny Town This September, Kent’s newest indoor play area opened its doors to local families. So we went along to find out what they have to offer. faMily-run and faMily-friendly

“I'm so excited to come to work, the energy from the children and parents who visit is amazing” says manager Patricia Baquero. The idea for an indoor play area came about after the birth of her

granddaughter. Says Patricia: “We couldn’t find many places to go during the winter that were interesting and stimulating for our granddaughter as well as family-friendly and fun. So my son came up with the idea of Tiny Town and we began

our research. When we found a 20,000 sq. ft. building behind the KM offices in Larkfield we realised it would be an excellent location for parents in Maidstone, Medway and Tonbridge. Making it one of the largest indoor play areas in the UK.”

theMed toWn

Tiny Town is more than just a name – the play area is split into seven zones including a supermarket, hospital, race track and fire station which together make up the town. All the areas have plenty of brightly coloured play equipment. And each of the zones features different themes and props to encourge learning through 20

www.kentfamilymagazine.co.uk


play. There are giant coins in the supermarket, along with posters about healthy food. And information about what to do in an emergency in the fire station. And for kids and adults they two have state-of-the-art 3G football pitches, located within the same open plan building as the soft play area.

Best bits

. . .for GroWnuPs Free Wi-Fi ● Home-made cakes, a range of coffee and freshly-prepared snacks ● Free papers and magazines ● Central seating area and CCTV so it’s easier to keep an eye on your little ones ● Very clean and regularly inspected by staff ●

extra touches

It’s obvious in talking to Patricia that she is passionate about what she does and wants parents and children to enjoy their experience at Tiny Town. “We have just started a special free evening for children with disabilities and special needs. Having watched a mother following her autistic son around during our regular session I realised it would be much less stressful for her if she had a special time when they could come. So now we open late on the last Wednesday of the month just for disabled and special needs children. And it’s free. We are also launching a special grandparents session. And for pre-schoolers, we’re starting a story-time session once a week during the day.”

Entrance is for two hours and costs £3 for 0-2s and £4 for ages 2-12s off-peak (9:30am3:30pm). Weekends, after school, bank holidays and school holidays are peak time and prices are £4 (0-2) and £5 (2-12). For more information go to www.yourtinytown.co.uk or visit them at Sheldon Way, Larkfield, ME20 6SE.

Best bits . . . for Kids

3G football pitches Messy play area with chalks and giant puzzles ● Covered slide with tracer lighting in space zone ● Cool bikes ● Special area for under 4s only ● Sensory room ● ●

to advertise call 01634 814364 21


Pre-school

Children’s Centres

There’s so much on offer From new baby groups to toddler sessions and support for parents – there are a wealth of activities taking place at children’s centres in and around Maidstone. We sent local mum Sue Lyons to find out more.

Great choice and free!

When a friend told me about the Children’s Centres and I went to find out what they had to offer, I couldn’t believe the extent of services and groups they run, most free of charge! There are 11 local Children’s Centres based across Maidstone and Malling, many have been expanded and relocated to new premises within the past 22

few years. They provide a central place to gain easy access to information, support and services available for all families with children aged 0-5 years. The groups offer adults the opportunity to make friends and gain support. And encourage children to develop through play, socialise

not Just for Kids

For parents and carers there are many drop-in support sessions providing help with breastfeeding, stopping smoking, parenting advice, health visitor and midwife clinics, language courses, support for finding work and training from Job Centre Plus, information about childcare and access to services for children with special needs. Some of the centres also run courses on managing your child’s behaviour and learning English as a second language.

‘‘Offering a wealth of fun activities for babies and toddlers, they are also great places to meet new people’’ and communicate. The main centres are open every weekday, including school holidays and some run dads groups during the week and at weekends.

www.kentfamilymagazine.co.uk

By Parents for Parents

Although the centres are run by a team of qualified staff, parents are encouraged to get involved


and take ownership of the centre. Many parents suggest ideas for new services and help to implement them. Some centres run informal Parent Voice forums, allowing parents to share their comments and ideas on the services and events offered. Parents can volunteer to help in the centre and are given full training and CRB checks.

findinG out More

All the centres have a very warm and welcoming atmosphere and you can drop in at any time to find out more. Locally our four main centres are Greenfields, The Meadow, Sunshine and Woodlands. These main centres have a team of helpful and friendly staff and beautifully equipped play rooms and outside areas. Each centre

offers a different timetable of activities and new sessions are being introduced all the time. The main centres often run satellite groups in other areas. To find your nearest centre visit the Kent Children’s Centre section of www.kenttrustweb. org.uk where you can find contact details and information.

What’s on?

The centres run a selection of drop-in events (no need to book). These vary between centres but can include: buggy walks, messy play, dads groups, childminders groups, breastfeeding and nutrition advice, young parents groups, new baby groups, sensory play and music. All the centres hold regular midwife, health visitor and oral health clinics. The main centres have a rolling programme of courses, some of which have a small fee payable. And cover topics such as parent and child cooking, baby resuscitation, baby massage, baby signing, as well as courses for parents.

Where are the Centres? Greenfields Children’s centre Rutland Way, Shepway, Maidstone, ME15 8DR, 01622 750025 the Meadow children’s centre Furfield Close, Park Wood, Maidstone, ME15 9JR, 01622 699900 sunshine children’s centre South Borough Primary School, Stagshaw Close, Maidstone, ME15 6TL, 01622 752285 Woodlands children’s centre, Chapman Way, East Malling, ME19 6SD, 01732 874086 With additional centres at: Burham Primary School, 07872 466933 Loose Children’s Centre, Loose Pavilion. 01622 750025 East Borough Children's Centre, Vinters Road, Maidstone, 01622 757203 West Borough Children's Centre, Greenway, Maidstone, 01622 726436 St Lukes Church Hall, St Lukes Road, 01622 752285 Larkfield Children’s Centre, 07872 466933 Snodland Children’s Centre, 01634 245476 Headcorn Children's Centre, 01622 891451

to advertise call 01634 814364 23


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2 to 4 year olds Classes in: Creative Physical MAIDSTONE,KINGS HILL, Fun WALDERSLADE, STROOD cates AND ST MARY’S ISLAND. Certifi Parties Call Lisa Jarrett on Nursery 01634 682181 Classes www.lisajarrett@dinkydancers.com Free trial

Making Movement Matter!

• Using specifically designed equipment your child will learn agility, balance, climbing and co-ordination skills. • A structured fun programme designed to build self confidence and develop essential listening & language skills.

Please call on: 01634 682760 or visit: www.tumbletots.com/medway

Classes at Medway, Maidstone West and Meopham

There’s nothing quite like Dinky Dancers Part-time class leaders wanted. Call for details

Baby Signing the FUN way!! 

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For more information on our multi-award winning classes in  Medway and Maidstone contact Lorraine on 

07954 439579 lorrainemurray@singandsign.co.uk

Online shop for educational wooden toys, puppets, fancy dress, baby accessories & more

w w w. t o t s n t o y s . c o . u k 24

www.kentmama.co.uk

16:


to advertise call 01634 814364 25


Maidstone maternity & toddler talk Join the fun

Ringletots is looking for more parents/carers to come along to their baby and toddler group that meets on Tuesdays, 9.30-11am at Finch Hall off Dicken’s Road, Ringlestone, Maidstone. Activities include arts and crafts, printing, cooking, refreshments, singing and story time. A health visitor is in attendance for the first hour. The group is free although small donations are welcome. Call Jackie Cray 01622 851822.

Baby Rhyme Time

It’s never too early to introduce your little one to the library. As well as a range of baby board books, many local libraries run baby rhyme time and story time sessions. Taking place

during term-time, the free baby rhyme time sessions are a fun and noisy way to develop a love of language whilst joining in with nursery rhymes and action songs. Great for babies aged 1 and under, you can find sessions at the following libraries: Maidstone, Allington, Coxheath, Madingford, Staplehurst, Borough Green, Larkfield, Snodland and West Malling. For full details of times and dates visit the www. kent.gov.uk/libs. Or pop along to your local library. For pre-schoolers Maidstone, Bearsted and Staplehurst run free story time sessions for 3 to 4 year olds.

Naturally Healthy Pregnancy Evening –

First Birthday!

Did you know... Maidstone Leisure Centre are holding a Christmas party for toddlers on 16th December. £3 per child. Call 01622 220228 for details. 26 www.kentfamilymagazine.co.uk

Southcote Naturally Healthy Pregnancy evenings will be celebrating their fi rst birthday on 3rd December, and warmly invite expectant parents, new mums and those trying to conceive to come along and help them celebrate. There will be antenatal, postnatal and maternity professionals plus stalls and information. Entry is free and there is a free prize draw. Open from 6pm to 8pm you can drop in anytime.

The evenings take place every two months at the Southcote Exercise Centre on Sittingbourne Road, Maidstone. Their next event takes place on 11th Feb. Contact Georgina on 07870 409681 for more details or email naturallyhealthy pregnancy@ gmail.com


Have baby, will exercise! Whether you want to keep fit or get back in shape, exercising can be a great mood-lifter and a fun way to meet other people. If you think having a baby limits your choices, think again. There are many classes where baby can come too. Here’s our pick of baby-friendly exercise classes in and around Maidstone. 12.45pm. Sit your baby in a buggy or car seat at the poolside. £3.95 members, £5.95 non members. No need to book. Call 8451 552277.

BuGGy WalKs

Greenfields Children’s Centre (01622 750025) Meeting Mondays at 9.15am and walking to Mote Park. Then back to the centre by 11.15am. Free of charge and no need to book. The Meadow Children’s Centre (01622 699900) have their buggy walk on Thursdays between 10am and 11am. Meeting at Fusion, Park Wood Parade. Free.

MuM and BaBy yoGa BBcise mum and baby yoga. Post natal yoga for mother and baby at Southcote Rehabilitation & Exercise Centre, Friday 10 – 11am. Classes help mum strengthen and tone core muscles, regain good posture and increase energy levels. For baby, there is massage and fun yoga

based exercises with games. Suitable for babies from 6-8 weeks to crawling. Courses run during term time. £39 for 6 weeks. Call Pippa on 01732 884895 / 07914601083. www. birthcomfort.co.uk/bbcise.htm Mum and baby yoga class in Kings Hill, Thursday 11.15am. Includes gentle stretches for babies, lots of singing and movement and yoga postures for new mothers. Suitable for babies from 6 weeks up to crawling. £6 per session pay as you go. Call Natasha on 07766 717 398.

Pushy Mothers

Buggy workouts in Mote Park with qualified antenatal and postnatal personal trainer Emma Goodman. Monday 11.30am and Tuesday 1.30pm. Meet at the car park by the lake. £6 per session. Call Emma 07811 209 452 or visit www. preandpostnatalexercise.co.uk. Post natal aQua aeroBics Maidstone Leisure Centre, Monday to advertise call 01634 814364 27


Activities Here Lorraine gives some simple tips on signing with your baby: Eat and drink These signs are easy to do. Who hasn’t stood in a crowded bar and mimed drinking to a friend? Well, that’s the action we use for drink with babies. We sign eating by putting our fingertips to our lips as though putting something in our mouth. Next time you offer your baby food or drink, make the signs while asking if they want something to eat/drink. Do this regularly and your baby will soon realise that the word and sign mean the same.

Talking without words

Ever wondered what your baby is really thinking? Lorraine Murray, who runs baby signing classes in Maidstone and Medway, tells us how you can use baby signing to “talk” to your child.

“Babies use all kinds of signs and gestures as a natural part of learning to talk. You can tap into this by teaching children as young as six months some basic signs for everyday events”, says Lorraine who runs the Maidstone and Medway franchise for ‘Sing and Sign’ baby signing classes. “A common misconception is that signing with your baby will inhibit his or her natural instinct to talk, but signing is not a replacement for talking with your baby; in fact it encourages both of you to talk more!” Classes take place during the week and on Saturdays for babies from six months to two years. “I love seeing babies conveying what they want or how they feel to their parents well before they can speak. It really helps with bonding and language development. As baby grows into a toddler, the second year of life can be one of great frustration for infants and their carer’s and one of the major causes of tantrums is the toddler’s inability to communicate. Signing also allows your baby to understand you better!” 28

www.kentfamilymagazine.co.uk

You can also teach babies signs for daily events such as washing, sleeping, changing nappies and going out. Next time you are going out in the car, try signing “car” to your baby, by miming the steering wheel. Always Say the word Never sign in silence. Keep it simple One sign per sentence. Be consistent Always use the same gesture for a particular word. Classes are held in Maidstone, Kings Hill and Medway. Lorraine also offers a programme for day-care providers and family centres. Call Lorraine on 07954 439579 or visit www.singandsign.co.uk


Postnatal Yoga Courses held in the for Maidstone & Sevenoaks area Mother and Baby

Fun,interactive interactive classes combining postnatal and baby Fun, classes combining postnatal and yoga with nursery rhymes, massage and sensory play. baby yoga with nursery rhymes, massage and Suitable from 6 weeks upwards. sensory play

CLASSES IN MAIDSTONE AND Suitable from 6 weeks upwards

Helping to ease many conditions including:

rmation: SEVENOAKS AREA. 083 Call Pippa on 07914 601083 bciseclasses@hotmail.co.uk Pippa_bbciseclasses@hotmail.co.uk ww.birthcomfort.co.uk/bbcise.htm www.birthcomfort.co.uk/bbcise.htm

tal Yoga Pregnancy or Gymbabe yoga classes Ad 64x60>16710 also and Baby available

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asses also available

Give your baby a head start in life!

Sickness & nausea Back pain & sciatica Overdue baby Stress & anxiety Blood pressure fluctuations Digestive disorders Sleep disorders Postnatal problems

... and more Call Georgina Strickland MAR 01634 313158 / 07870 409681 www.lifespanreflexology.co.uk

Gymbabes classes are tailor made for babies from 6 months upwards and has been voted Best children’s activity provider by Tommys’ baby friendly awards. • Exercises and colourful equipment to encourage

Designed for the modern day expectant and nursing mum

your baby to sit, crawl and eventually walk!

• Action songs & rhymes to develop listening skills and enjoyment of music.

Please call on: 01634 682760 or visit: www.tumbletots.com/medway

Classes at Medway, Maidstone West and Meopham

emma goodman . . personal raining

bump, baby & beyond Specialist personal training for women who want an active, healthy pregnancy... ...and beyond Minimise the effects of pregnancy on posture ● Strengthen core and pelvic fl oor ● Get back into pre-pregnancy jeans

www.pregalicious.co.uk Buy on-line or visit our shop ●

● ●

Stylish, affordable, fashionable maternity wear Free maternity and feeding bra fitting and a wide choice of underwear Nursing wear. And comfy feeding couch for breastfeeding mums Changing bags, receiving blankets, baby vests and sleepsuits Gift vouchers and baby shower ideas Petite and tall sizes Mum and baby lotions

Professional personal training at affordable prices

Contact Emma: 07811 209452 emma@preandpostnatalexercise.co.uk www.preandpostnatalexercise.co.uk

Unit 6 Royal Star Arcade High Street, Maidstone 01622 764570

to advertise call 01634 814364 29


5

top tips

to get over the holiday season blues!

Whether you’ve set yourself a New Year’s resolution to become healthier or you just want a antidote to Christmas excesses, Pip Lawrence, who runs fitness classes in Maidstone, gives us her advice.

1

stoP the suGar craVinGs - Due to the amount of sweet treats we consume over the holiday period our bodies become sugar junkies, and the only way to stop the cycle is cold turkey (not literally). Mark 5 days on your calendar where you can stick to excluding any processed and sugary foods from your diet. By day 2 you’ll be craving your sugar fix but keep going until day 5 and you’ll feel better mentally and physically.

MaKe exercise fun To ensure you carry on your new exercise habits for the whole year you need to start at your own pace and don’t expect to much from yourself. Don’t do the same workout every week because it’s boring and exercise, believe it or not, should be fun. It takes 12 weeks to build an exercise habit so ensure you exercise at least once a week for 12 weeks then after that it will become a habit rather than a chore.

4

drinK cranBerry Juice - Studies have

shown drinking cranberry juice not only helps prevent urinary tract infections but there’s strong evidence that it also helps protect from stomach ulcers. Along with spinach, cranberry juice is also a strong antioxidant with numerous health benefits. However if you’re trying to lose weight stick to one glass a day because as with most fruits it’s also high in natural sugars.

5

Get outside - Wrapping up warm and

going for a walk will not only give you some quality family time but you’ll also be burning off that Christmas dinner. If you go for a 30 minute walk you will burn 150 calories, which doesn’t sound like a lot but what people forget is that just because you’ve stopped walking doesn’t mean your body's stopped working. During your walk you release endorphins and adrenaline which will give you a natural high, more energy and you're more likely to stay active during the day. After your walk your metabolism will be increased meaning you’ll still be burning calories when your feet are up.

2

3

eat sPinach - Spinach is a strong antioxidant so rather than going on fad diets where by Easter you’ve put on more weight than you started with, try adding spinach to salads, curries and pasta dishes to detox your body. Try serving 1/2 a cup of cooked spinach per person or a full cup to get even more benefits. 30 www.kentfamilymagazine.co.uk

Outdoor exercise for women only. 6.30am, 9.30am and evening sessions available. Indoor and outdoor training. NEW location in Maidstone. FREE fitness test and body stats. Proven results over a 5 week course. Quote Kent Family for a FREE taster session. Contact Pip for details 07981 225799 / pip@fitnesscamp.co.uk Location: Lower Grange Farm, Sandling and Priestfields, Rochester Improve fitness, loose inches and have fun doing it !!


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Maidstone Winter 2010 Kent Family