Changes are afoot!

For those of you who follow this blog, this is for you, to let you know that changes are afoot!  As from last week I no longer edit the Mumsnet Portsmouth, Southampton and Hampshire sites, and will no longer be using this blog as an extension of those sites.

I’m going to be developing this blog over the next month or so, so don’t forget about me, but I’m going to be quiet for a little while.


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Planning a Birthday Party? Pyramids have the answer!

FamilypoolimageOrganising a child’s birthday party can be challenging at the best of times, which is why many parents opt to hold the event at a venue who can organise the entertainment, catering and take care of the cleaning up afterwards. At the Pyramids Centre you have a choice of birthday party options, catering for all ages. For those who can swim, a pool party is a fun option, with full use of the teaching pool with the snake flume, floats and toys. The party includes a party host, food, party bags and invitations from just £150 for the entire party for a minimum of 12 children, £5 per extra child.  You can also opt to have exclusive use of the Alien Run inflatable for the same price, a great option for older children. SoftplayFor non-swimmers or younger children, Pyramids offer a Soft Play party package, for the exclusive use of the equipment for up to 30 children including a party host, food, party bags and invitations. There are three levels of fun filled with mazes, climbing frames, slides, ball pits and loads of fun puzzles and characters.  This package costs just £145 for a minimum of 12 children, £5 per extra child.  Parties are available Monday – Friday from 5 pm – 7 pm or on Saturdays and Sundays between 4 pm and 6 pm. Pyramids Party Menus include hot and cold party favourites.  Choose from a selection of filled rolls served with crips, raisins and Milky Way Magic Stars or a range of hot meals served with fries, including vegetarian options, with a selection of fruit juices, and followed with a serving of delicious ice cream. With everything organised for you, including the provision of invitations and party bags, there’s every reason to book your child’s party at Pyramids. To book call the centre on 023 9279 9977 or email This is a guest blog post for Pyramids run by BHLive.

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Reception Class Open House Morning at Little St Johns this Thursday

Little St John 1Little St John’s the Early Years department of St John’s College in Southsea will be opening the doors to prospective paresnt on Thursday 5th March 2015, from 10 am – 11.30 am.  Judged by Ofsted as ‘Outstanding’ this event will provide an opportunity for parents to see the facilities, and learn about the high quality teaching and learning.  Children are welcome at the event and there will be a chance to speak to the Headmaster and staff over refreshments.  Activities will be taking place for the children. To book a place, please call the College on 023 9281 5118 or visit the website and complete an online booking form.

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Portsmouth Half Term Activities: Blue Reef Aquarium

If your children are into sharks, then head to the Blue Reef Aquarium this half term, as it’s Shark Week (14-22 Feb) and the aquarium will be celebrating all things Shark with a week of dedicated special events and activities.

Shark Week 2Alongside the regular exhibits and tanks, visitors can take the chance to feed sharks and ray, dig for real shark fossils, learn about their evolution and find out about the dangers they face in the wild and what we can all do to help protect them.

“Sharks are always one of the first things visitors want to see when they come to the aquarium.  This event will provide visitors of all ages with a real insight into these fascinating fish and their truly extraordinary history.  From ancient shark fossils to having the change to actually help feed real ones there really is something for everyone to enjoy.”

Blue Reef’s Adam Makinson

Black tip reef sharkVisitors will have the chance to dig for their own marine fossils, enjoy quizzes, competitions and special shark workshops every day.  Blue Reef will also be playing host to the groups who fight for the conservation of sharks worldwide.

Don’t miss out on the chance to help feed the native rays and sharks, spaces will be limited so get there early on Tuesday, Thursday and both Saturdays.  Usual admission applies, with no extra charge for Shark Week activities with the exception of shark and ray feeding for which a small additional fee is payable.



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Half Term Fun at Pyramids

2009 Adult and Kid Images 157Half term is rapidly approaching, and with the weather still on the cold, wet and windy side, Pyramids offers the ideal place to take the children to let off some steam without having to brave the elements.

Keep the children entertained and thrilled for hours in our Soft Play Adventure World. With three levels of fun filled with mazes, climbing frames, slides, ball pits and loads of fun puzzles and characters there is plenty to keep younger children entertained. Open from 8 am til 5 pm (4 pm on weekends), you can entertain the kids for hours.


Bring their swimming costumes and you can also enjoy three swimming pools, including a baby splash pool, feel exhilarated on our fantastic water slide and the fantastic sidewinder flume, and feel the motion of the ocean in our awesome wacky wave pool, all to the sound of music.



We have swim sessions to suit all ages. If you have a toddler then come along to our parent and toddler sessions with toys and group fun activity time with a teach in attendance for advice. Older children and more experienced swimmers, can enjoy our inflatable session with the awesome Alien Run inflatable with a multitude of challenging obstacles to overcome. We also have the excellent Super Splash session with inflatable swimming toys, waves, three flumes, three pools and music. Super splash will be running every day during  Half Term – have a look at our timetable to find the session you’d like to try.

KidsboxYou can enjoy delicious food and drink at the poolside Terrace Cafe, so why not make a day of it with friends?

We’re running a competition for a family ticket for a swimming session and soft play session. for details on how to enter – click here.


Don’t forget our Swim for £1 promotion is still running to the 28th February 2015 (but not including the Half Term Week – 16-20 February).

Pyramids offer

This is a guest blog post by BH Live for Pyramids.


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Weekend Activities and Events for Kids in Portsmouth

sid-and-dogThe Spring at Havant are holding a brand new club this Saturday 31st January, called Time Hoppers. It will run once a month on Saturday mornings and is for young people to discover and explore their history.  Each workshop will include activities designed to allow participants to adventure into the past with imagination, crafts and artefacts. You can try a workshop before you buy – if you like it and want to continue, you can pay for your trial week when paying for the rest of the term. The whole term is just £26 for four workshops and these sessions are aimed at children aged 8-12.  Also at the Spring will be the regular Saturday morning craft workshop Craft4Kids which is totally free and drop in between 10.30 am and 12 noon.

robins winter adventureIn the afternoon, also at The Spring you can take the children to see an uplifting tale of change, bravery and friendship told with puppetry, poetry, music and magical design.  Robin’s Winter Adventure is aimed at children aged 4+.

Untitled-1For more theatrical fun, make sure you catch Sid’s Show at Kings Theatre on Sunday 1st February, an interactive experience crammed with games, songs, poems and magic.  Sid is on a heroic quest to find out where in the world his favourite socks and shoes have got to.

If you’re a certain age (not me, oh no) then you will remember The Sooty Show. The latest incarnation is touring at the moment and you can shout ‘Izzy Wizzy Let’s get busy’ at Ferneham Hall also on Sunday at either 11 am 0r 2.30 pm.

At Odeon Port Solent you can see The Unbeatables at 10.30 am, or if you can stand it this time of year – Nativity 3: Dude Where’s My Donkey at 10 am, both showing on Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets for Odeon Kids are just £2.50. Vue at Gunwharf are offering The Snow Queen: Magic of the Ice Mirror on both Saturday and Sunday at 10 am. Tickets for Kids AM are just £1.75.

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Passport Pictures for Babies in Portsmouth

Babies and passport picture booths do not mix. So here’s a few places in Portsmouth where you can take your baby or toddler for their pictures to be done.

North End

Goodwins, 51 London Road, North End, PO2 0BH – 023 9266 4444


Max Spielman, 57 High Street, Cosham, PO6 3AX – 023 9237 0123


Island Pictures, 183 Eastney Road, Southsea PO4 8EA – 023 9283 9958

The Rose Studio, 155 Winter Road, Southsea PO4 8DR – 023 92 864 240

Goldchem, 147 Albert Road, Southsea PO4 0JW – 023 9273 1680

If you can’t get out to one of those the you could consider using Passpic – an online service, allowing you to upload a picture taken with your smartphone and the photographs checked and sent out in the post.

This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list, so if you know of anyone else doing baby and toddler passport pictures, please do add a comment below.





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Fertility Law Team at Biscoes have advice for you

Biscoes LogoWhenever people hear or mention that they are having problems in starting or expanding their families, the first presumption is often that there are fertility issues within the couple. This does however only scratch upon the surface of some of the major hurdles that some individuals and couples are having to face. There could be difficulties due to physical fertility issues, genetic issues, or due to an individual or same sex couple not being able to conceive without assistance.

According to the NHS, around one in seven couples have problems in conceiving their own child. This can be for a number of reasons and there are various options available including medical treatment for lack of ovulation, surgical procedures, and assisted conception (IUI or IVF). Alternatively, sometimes fertility itself is not an issue and instead other factors such as a genetic condition within the family can influence how you have your child but there are processes and procedures such as Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) which can ensure that you have a healthy child without that genetic condition.

If these processes and procedures do not work then there is the opportunity to look at sperm or egg donation depending on which factor is causing the ‘fertility’ issue. This can be done through a licenced clinic or through more informal methods. Embryo donation can also be sought if there are fertility issues with both members of a couple but this would only take place through a licenced clinic. Donation can be used by heterosexual couples, an individual woman wishing to conceive, a same sex couple wishing to conceive and by any individual or couple who are looking to implant a surrogate to carry their child for them. Different legal issues apply depending upon how the donation is obtained which we discuss in more detail in a later article, but advice should always be obtained if one member of the couple is not going to be biologically linked to the child, and what the expectations are of all parties involved, particularly if the donation is taking place outside of a clinic.

There are mainly forms of help and assistance so you should not feel alone. Neither should you proceed with a particular course of action without potentially consulting a medical professional or legal adviser to find out your needs and rights, and equally any rights relating to the child. If you have any queries or concerns regarding any of the above fertility options and how they may affect your legal rights and any rights for your child, then please contact a member of our fertility law team at Biscoes.

profile_alison_lee1This is a guest blog post by Alison Lee, who heads Biscoes Family Team and personally specialises in children law matters including care proceedings, adoptions and fertility issues such as surrogacy.  She also advises on private child law matters. Alison is a member of the Law Society Children Panel and Association of Lawyers for Children. If you have a family issue, get in touch for advice.


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So much advice on successful breastfeeding – but how to stop?

100_1047Like many mothers, I had a less than smooth breastfeeding journey. I had a poor latch and for two days struggled until the midwife arrived and told me to take my daughter to A&E to be treated for jaundice. My daughter was admitted and then diagnosed with a condition called transient hyper-insulinism, which meant that she was treated by constant feeding through a nasal gastric tube. I spent two and a half fraught weeks on a camp bed by her cot in the hospital, extremely tired from a lengthy labour complicated by pre-eclampsia and weak with blood loss from an emergency C-section.  Unsurprisingly, without any support or midwife visits, or the ability to go to a breast feeding clinic, or actually being able to feed my baby, my supply dwindled, and I didn’t know how to get it back and at the time didn’t really realise I could. I became very practiced at bottles and formula feeding. I should point out that this happened in a very busy London hospital, not Portsmouth.

Cue, second pregnancy and a renewed determination to breastfeed my baby this time. This time, I thought, I will be more prepared. And I was. I attended a workshop by the Breastfeeding Network and I read up on the subject. I was rewarded by a good latch more often than not and any issues were ironed out by attending the drop in clinic at St Marys.

I successfully breastfed for 6 weeks. Excellent I thought. I’ll do it until three months and then I’ll introduce a bottle.

I introduced a bottle. Child and bottle did not get along. I introduced a different bottle, and another. Again, no dice. Ok I thought. There’s no need really. I’m staying home for a while longer yet, he’ll self wean and anyway, it’s good for him.

Two years later, I’m ready to stop. Really. Please, I’d like to stop. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep for two years and my son is now sleeping worse than he did when he was a newborn.

So I did what most people do, when they need to know something. I googled and here are the results:

Baby centre advised me that I’d need to give formula milk instead. Or offer a small portion of food before feeding or water in a soft spouted beaker. Well, here’s the thing. He’s two, he can talk and he can ask me for food if he’s hungry, and water if he’s thirsty. Advice for babies who don’t want to stop – find other ways of comforting such as reading a book or playing a game instead. He feeds at night so I won’t be jumping up to prepare a small snack or find a story book or play a game at 1.30 am or 4.30 am (his current wake up times of choice). Babycentre aren’t alone with this advice – and they’re not wrong, but they are assuming that you’ll be weaning a much younger child or they just don’t give enough detail. You can also find advice on this subject from Breastfeeding NetworkLa Leche League and Mumsnet.

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers had some much more useful advice and I’ll summarise it here with my thoughts, but do go ahead and read the whole page. The main idea is to change routines gradually. Now this sounds more promising as, frankly our bedtime routines have become a mess and we have simply started to take the easy route of feeding to sleep when he looks sleepy in order to ensure at least one hour of child free time before collapsing into bed ourselves.

The idea I am most interested in is to develop a new bedtime routine, introducing a new association over time, such as a favourite toy or singing a bedtime song or even a key phrase.  Do this each time you put the baby to bed, and then gradually (how gradually will probably depend on your child, in my case, I am planning miniscule, tiny stages) lengthen the time between breastfeeding and sleeping until eventually you can drop the feeding.

Other strategies discussed include the ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ plan, which is exactly what it says. You never offer a breastfeed, looking instead always to comfort some other way or gently distract your child, but if that doesn’t work and they indicate they want a feed, then go ahead and feed.  This was actually advice I had already been given on our local breastfeeding facebook page (do join, if you need support locally, it’s great), and I think that it has largely been responsible for the significant reduction in daytime breastfeeding.

Good ways to avoid reaching that point are to avoid wearing accessible clothes, and avoid usual breastfeeding situations, both locations and times. So, if you have a chair that you always breastfeed in – don’t settle in it, or if there is a time in the day you usually feed, perhaps do something else at that time, like take them out for a walk to shift the association. Of course, if you’ve just started doing this, don’t do what I did and wear a shift dress that you actually have to take off to feed, if you really can’t distract your child from feeding. That is very awkward indeed, let me tell you, and even more tricky in a loo, which was my only option at the time, unless I wanted to sit in my tights and bra in a shopping centre.

The NCT had some other advice on the subject, and point out that toddlers don’t like change, (obvious, but when you’re sleep deprived, probably worth pointing out) and that attempting change can result in your child increasing their need for the breast. I can certainly identify with that statement.  They suggest that you could stick to a designated time and place for a breastfeed and stick to that, on the basis that if you stick to it and remain consistent your toddler is likely to accept it. All very well if you are simply cutting down, but I want to actually stop, and since the feeds are now really only to get him to sleep and when he wakes in the night, we already have this and I want to drop it.  They too advocate ‘don’t ask, don’t refuse’ and in the case of an older toddler who has some language and understanding, to introduce ‘later’ or ‘only at bedtime’ or older still, an agreement that you will stop at a certain point, such as their birthday or Christmas. My son talks, but that sort of agreement is beyond him.

I found a lengthy article by Breastfeeding Basics, who suggest encouraging dad to take an active role in weaning, by having dad do the bedtime routine, or going to soothe your child at night, and interestingly, setting limits on the duration of any feeding session.  The article describes using a timer and an alarm going off after a few minutes, which might not be necessary but the concept I believe could be useful, with your child getting used to only feeding for say, 5 minutes and then it will stop.

Another useful and detailed resource is the Weaning Toddlers article by the Australian Breastfeeding Association and is well worth a read.

I haven’t yet considered the issue of mastitis or engorged breasts, and I suspect that as I am doing this so gradually, that won’t arise, but if you need advice on those issues, there is plenty out there, just have a look at the links scattered through this post – most will mention it.

So, there is more advice out there than I thought, some of it seems pretty good, and I’ll be putting it into practice very soon. I’ll let you know if it works for us. In the meantime, if you need support there are some excellent breastfeeding support groups in Portsmouth:

Breastfeeding Network Poster







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Weekend Events for Kids in Portsmouth

Saturday 24th January 2015



Craft4Kids at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre will be taking place again this Saturday from 10.30 am – 12 noon, absolutely free of charge, with all materials provided.

Portsmouth City Museum will be holding a First World War Researchathlon as part of the WWI commemorations.  Uncover hidden stories of Portsmouth men and women during the First World War with free make and take craft activities for younger children. No need to book, just turn up between 10.30 am – 4 pm.

RSPB big garden birdwatchAs part of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, RSPB staff will be on hand at the Natural History Museum in Southsea to help you identify and record your bird sightings.  Print out the handy bird ID sheet from the RSPB website and take along a pen and paper for this free activity between 12 noon and 2 pm. And if you want to take things a step further, why not have a look at their site for ideas on how to make bird feeders.

cubano beach club

Cubano Beach Club

We have a great new venue in Fratton which opened recently – The Cubano Beach Club and they will be holding a Mini Disco for 0-5s every Saturday 10.15 am – 10.45 am at a cost of £3 per child. Hosted by Captain Rey of the Pompey Sea, toddlers can learn a range of dances to English and Spanish classic disco songs. At the start of the class they are dressed up as mini pirates for a fun filled 30 minutes of dancing, with resident puppets Mambo and Choco.  They also have preschool Spanish classes available in the afternoon – Brainy Bambinos Preschool Spanish with no booking necessary.

If you’re looking for a nursery then the Asquith day nursery and pre-school at Port Solent is holding an ‘I am a mathematician’ open day on Saturday. You’ll get to meet the staff and have a look around. They advise that you book in advance through the Customer Care Team on 01753 20 11 22.

top banana drop in

Top Banana Circus Drop In

Alternatively if you fancy learning some circus skills, then  Top Banana Circus will be at the Guildhall this Saturday celebrating one year of doing workshops there from 1 pm – 3.30 pm. The event is totally free, and suitable for all, so go along and learn circus skills and try out the trapeze.  More details here.



Sunday 25th January 2015

Kings Theatre will be showing Chicken Little at 2 pm.

Saturday and Sunday

Port Solent Odeon Kids club will be showing Dolphin Tale 2 at 10.30 am  and The Unbeatables at 10 am on both days. Tickets are just £2.50 each.

Vue Cinema at Gunwharf Quays are showing The Nut Job at 10 am Saturday and 10.15 am on Sunday, tickets just £1.75 each.





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