Zenses Holistic Therapies – Light Touch Baby & Toddler Reflexology Course

Tania-MeacherLast week I met up with Tania Meacher, who you may be familiar with as the woman behind Zenses Holistic Therapies.  I wanted to know more about her  expanding range of services, and in particular her latest course – The Light Touch Baby &  Toddler Reflexology Course.

Tania has been practicing complementary therapies for over 7 years, specialising in maternity and fertility treatments and has always offered reflexology.  Having developed a relationship with her clients through pregnancy massage and reflexology treatments, she wanted to continue that relationship after the birth of the baby.  Baby & Toddler Reflexology classes were the result, and these offer parents the chance to learn how to use reflexology on their own children, to help with teething, sleeping and digestive issues, further aiding bonding. The courses are for parents to learn to use the treatment on their own child, not for any child.  This course is unique in the Portsmouth area.

Zenses Baby & ToddlerThe treatment can aid digestion and ease colic by relieving trapped wind or constipation.  Sleeping can be improved by use as part of the bedtime routine, helping to promote deep and regular sleep, reducing hyperactivity and promoting calmness. It has also been shown to reduce mucus build up in sinus, ear, eyes, nose and throat areas which is great for colds in very young children who simply can’t take the remedies that older children can. Teething pain too can also be reduced by using the treatment.

The courses vary depending on your child’s age, with three 60 minute sessions for babies from 4 weeks to 10 months old and 20 60 minute sessions for toddlers.  Both are held as group sessions either in the Zen Garden Room in Havant, or various other locations in Southsea or Havant, including Portsmouth Yoga, The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre and the Mountbatten Centre. To check availability and location or to book, use this link. If the course dates aren’t suitable for you, it is possible for you to get a group of friends together and host it at your house, with the added benefit that the host receives a reduced course fee. Tania has set up a facebook group especially for her clients, or anyone wanting to know more and you can join it here.

Zenses offer maternity and fertility reflexology treatments, Swedish massage, pamper parties, manicures, pedicures and as a Neals Yard Remedies Organics consultant, Tania can also incorporate their organic, safe products into your treatments. You can also purchase these lovely products by holding an NYR Organics experience in your own home.

Holding an impressive array of qualifications including accreditation by the Federation of Holistic Therapists and  ReflexologyUK.org, Tania takes her continuing professional development seriously,  striving to offer the highest standard of service at all times. You can also now find Tania at The Natural Therapy Centre in Cosham as well as the Garden Zen Room in Havant, offering another location to access her range of services and home visits can also be arranged for the less mobile.

Zenses LogoMore information about the range of treatments and packages offered by Zenses Holistic Therapies is available on the website.  If you’ve had a treatment by Zenses and you’d like to leave a review, please add one here.







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Ever heard of Children’s University in Portsmouth?

children's university

Well surprisingly enough, it exists.  Children’s University is a trust offering 7 to 14 year olds (and 5 and 6 year olds with their families) exciting and innovative learning activities and experiences outside of normal school hours. The activities are linked to Higher Education courses.

Passport to LearningSo how does it work? Students use Passports to Learning in which they record the number of hours of completed CU validated learning activities. The aim is to encourage children to progress through the CU certification scheme and earn Bronze, Silver and Gold certificate awarded at graduation ceremonies.

This scheme is open to schools and if your child’s school isn’t a member you may be limited as to what they can undertake but we have found some activities locally that anyone can take part in, regardless of their school’s involvement.

Halfords in Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant offer a free 1 hour bikeclub workshop on selected days in the school holidays for children aged 7-11, accompanied by an adult. Places are limited and need to be booked in advance using this link http://www.halfords.com/bikeclub.

Part of the New Forest Children’s University, Aspex Gallery  at Gunwharf Quays focuses on ways to engage children and teenagers, and the participation programme provides activities for toddlers through to pensioners.  Your child can attend After School clubs, Holiday Art Clubs and See! Make! Do! on the second Saturday of every month.  Contact Vicky Chiswell at the gallery for more information vicky@aspex.org.uk.

Other destinations include Portchester Castle, Stagecoach Theatre Arts in Fareham and Havant, Stubbington Library, Treasure Gymnastics in Portsmouth and B&Q Havant. Use the maps page to find other destinations locally and click on each to find out what they have to offer.

Portsmouth Treasure HuntHere in Portsmouth your child can take part in the huntfun Treasure Hunt and gain two hours of accredited learning, whilst spending quality time with you at the weekend or in the school holidays. The Portsmouth Treasure Hunt takes you past all our famous local attractions including Gunwharf Quays, Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth Cathedral and the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and provides around two hours of entertainment.

But don’t stop there – you can also participate in Treasure Hunts in Havant, Chichester, Southampton, Petersfield and Winchester – or even further afield, just have a look at the site to find a hunt wherever you happen to be going.

To take part all you need to do is purchase a kit which is provided with everything you need including map, directions, clues and extra scavenger tasks.  Don’t worry if your child gets stuck – the answers are provided too. Those of you with pads or tablets or smartphones can download the hunt to view, or you can simply download and print it out.  If you’re happier with a paper version you can also order a kit to be posted to you. Kits can be purchased from the website here and costs from £5.99 for a standard hunt plus P&P.  Downloadable hunts are more expensive at £7 for the first adult, with each additional adult costing £1 and the first child costing £1 and each additional 50 pence – so that’s just £9.50 for two adults and two children.

Once completed you get a 2 hours accredited learning stamp to add to your child’s Passport to Learning and you can return to the members area to personalise and print out your own huntfun certificate to keep.  For less than £10 this seems to be an ideal weekend or school holiday activity for the whole family, so why not  give it a go this Half Term or Easter break?

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Kids Swim for £1 at Portsmouth Pyramids

Pyramids offer

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Kids Activities in Portsmouth this Weekend

aspex_logoThis week sees the return of See! Make! Do! at Aspex art gallery. These popular artist led sessions take inspiration from the current installations and offer your child a chance to create works of art using various kinds of media. You can book ahead or just turn up on the day, and the session costs £6 per child. These take place once a month on the second Saturday of the month.

craft4kidsAlternatively if you live nearer the north of the city, then head to Havant for Craft4Kids at The Spring Arts centre where you can find an informal craft session every Saturday entirely free with all materials provided.

custard club logoFor even messier fun there is a Dad’s session with the Custard Club at the Keepsake Children’s Centre in Portchester on Saturday – a change from the usual Highslops venue – you do need to book ahead as places are limited – use this link.***NOW SOLD OUT***

If it’s a trip to the cinema you’re after then both Vue and Odeon Port Solent offer kids club films on both Saturday and Sunday mornings at special prices.  Vue are showing The Book of Life(Sat/Sun, 10 am) and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day(Sunday only 10 am), tickets £1.75 each. Port Solent are also showing Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, tickets £2.50 each (10 am).

snow queenIf you’d like a trip to the theatre, then this Saturday is also your last chance to see The Snow Queen at The Spring Arts Centre in Havant.

If the weather is miserable, then do have a look at our Swimming Pool listings or perhaps try a new soft play venue – perhaps visit the new Rock Up at Whiteley Shopping centre which has climbing walls for teens to adults and softplay climbing frames for younger children.  They are also running a new toddler group on a Monday during term time – Toddler Track from 9 am – 11 am. Soveriegns is now open again after their refurbishment and Fuzzy Ed’s has now become a Wacky Warehouse.

Have a great weekend!


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Procrastination and Tea

TeaI need to paint some shelves, organise paperwork and do some work on the Mumsnet Portsmouth website. So of course, I’ve made tea first. And a list. And I’ve written some things I’ve already done on the list and crossed them off so I feel a bit better about procrastinating.

As I was making my tea, I thought I’d share my latest obsession – Cardamon Tea. It’s very refreshing, try it with milk and a little spoonful of honey. You can get it at Akrams in Palmerston Road, Southsea, which incidentally, is a treasure trove of things that I absolutely must have in my kitchen. If you haven’t been in there, it’s well worth a look.

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Kids Swim for a £1 at Pyramids this January and February

kids for £1Pyramids is welcoming in the New Year with a fantastic value swimming offer for children, allowing under 16s to swim for just £1 (accompanying adults usual admission applies).  The offer is for the Wet & Wacky sessions which run at the centre on Mondays – Thursdays between 3 pm and 7 pm and 3 pm and 6 pm on Fridays (excluding the February Half Term break).  No voucher is necessary and the offer is open until the 28th February 2015. It’s a great family activity with something to suit all ages.  You can have a great time in a choice of three pools, two flume waterslides and a fun wave machine.

FamilypoolimageIf you or your child lacks confidence in the water, or have never learnt to swim then book your swimming lessons with Pyramids today. Don’t miss out on all the fun; our friendly qualified instructors can help to improve water confidence and swimming skills.  We offer lessons for everyone, from babies and toddler, pre-schoolers and juniors, right through to adults.

2009 Adult and Kid Images 157Babies can take part in lessons once they’ve had their first immunisations and join our classes to enjoy songs and nursery rhymes with water-orientated actions, teaching them to associate water with fun, stimulating their development and giving them and you as a parent confidence in the water.

Pre-schoolers from the age of three can have independent lessons depending on ability in the water. Adult lessons are available and if you prefer 1 – 1 tuition, that can be arranged from just £24 per session.

We participate in the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) Learn to Swim Award Scheme, a programme which the ASA has developed to take children through from their first splash about to full competence in the water.  You can be confident that your child will receive the best possible tuition, and they will receive certificates and swimming badges as they progress, even as a baby.

We’ve made it very easy to enrol, and you can start lessons at any point without having to wait for a new term and pay a monthly fee of just £20.50. Lessons take place 50 weeks of the year and you can swim for free during Wet & Wacky sessions whilst enrolled in the Swimming Academy.

Intensive swim courses during school holidays will be offered soon, and anyone wishing to register interest should email our swim co-ordinator Carol Jack at swimminglessons.pyramids@bhlive.co.uk

SoftplayRecently refurbished, and managed by BH Live, Pyramids offers the largest entertainment, leisure and event complex in Portsmouth. As well as the fun leisure pools, funky flumes, pool inflatables we also have a three level soft play adventure world filled with mazes, climbing nets and ball pits. Afterwards re-fuel with delicious food and drink from the poolside Terrace Café.  It’s a great destination for all the family.

To enrol or find out more, visit http://www.pyramids.co.uk , call 023 9279 9977 or email swimminglessons.pyramids@bhlive.co.uk. You can find the pool timetable here.

Pyramids logo

This is a guest post by Pyramids BH Live.


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Need help with your finances?

There’s no doubt about it, Christmas is a time for giving, and giving and giving some more, and before you know it, you’ve spent more than you are able to and find yourself in a difficult position come January. The worst thing you can do is ignore it, so if you are in need of some advice then here are some useful links for you.


Citizens Advice Bureau

CAB offer advice on their website and more personalised advice in person. You can find fact sheets on common financial difficulties here.  The debt advice line is 02392 855 855 and the general advice line 02392 315 411. You can email them at admin@portsmouthcab.org.uk or find them at http://www.portsmouthcab.org.uk/

If you need to speak to someone in person you can attend these local offices:

Ark Royal House, Winston Churchill Avenue, Portsmouth PO1 2GF – email

Cosham CAB – Northern Roundabout, Northern Road, Cosham, Hampshire PO6 3DN

There are also offices in Waterlooville, Havant, Hayling Island and Denmead – search for your nearest using this link.

stepchange StepChange Debt Charity

StepChange offer free impartial advice  – you can call them free on 0800 138 1111 for advice on debt, budgeting, general money advice, a benefits checker and utility switching. You can also access some advice on their website, by following the highlighted link.

shelter Shelter

A specialist housing and homelessness charity, Shelter can give you advice on any housing problems you are experiencing as a result of your debt problems. You can call them free on 0808 800 4444 (calls are free from UK landlines and main mobile networks).





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Great Little Trading Company – Cavendish Kitchen: A Review

DSC_0906At some point around the time that your child turns 2 or 3 you will find yourself shopping for a toy kitchen. The draw of play kitchens is not to be underestimated and both my children have spent many a happy hour playing with them.

It’s a question often asked on the Mumsnet forums – which play kitchen is the best? Well, to help you narrow down the choice, here’s my review of the latest offering from the Great Little Trading Company – the Cavendish Play Kitchen.

Beautifully designed, it comes in a pleasing American Diner style colour palette of red and blue. It’s counterpart, the Portobello comes in pale pink, should you be of the mindset that your child must have things in pink.

DSC_0908First things first. This is a flat pack product which comes in a smallish box, with the pieces wrapped carefully in bubblewrap.  The instructions are printed on one sheet of paper and of the diagram variety.


By virtue of living close to an Ikea, as you can imagine, I am quite the expert at flat pack construction and so I set to with gusto.  The kit comes with an Allen key but you will also need a small Philips screwdriver.

DSC_0910All went well until I reached the kitchen shelf, whose pre-drilled holes were just out. Matters were resolved by use of a drill and two new holes were created, though no doubt had I asked, I could have had a new shelf shipped out to me to replace it. Shelf issues aside, the instructions were clear, but execution fiddly. You will need two people, one to hold the pieces and the other to wield the screwdriver.


As you can see from the pictures, this is a very attractive play kitchen. Once put together it is sturdy and stable; the door works easily, and the knobs turn with a pleasing clicking noise.  My son was immediately drawn to the clock, salt and pepper rack and the utensil hooks and he spent some time exploring those before he even realised there was an oven and dials to investigate.  The kitchen comes with salt and pepper pots with removable lids and three wooden kitchen utensils.  You can also purchase a number of very attractive looking saucepan sets from Great Little Trading Co to go with it, which mix and match.

DSC_0977 Also known as  ‘destructo-boy’ or ‘Bam-Bam’, my son will find a weakness in any toy almost immediately. I’m happy to report nothing has been broken or pulled off, and believe me, he has tried.  Further trials have revealed that the kitchen sink is removable and also doubles as a hat and casserole dish.

DSC_0979Another bonus to this kitchen, compared to others I have experience of, is how light it is. I can pick it up and move it to another room with ease, no help required.  Given my son likes to be in whichever room I’m in, being able to move his favourite toy is useful.  It’s just the right size for a toddler, big enough, with enough features to be interesting and not so big that it dominates a room. The very fact that it is such a lovely design and colour is a bonus in itself, meaning I am not silently resenting it taking up space in my house. The finish is good, with no rough edges and the paintwork is pristine. There are no flimsy or easily breakable parts at all.


Sink bowl being utilised as a casserole dish in the oven

If you wanted a bigger kitchen with more features, perhaps for a slightly older child then there are several other models available.  You could try the Superstar Play Kitchen featuring microwave and washing machine or the Superchef Kitchen with fridge freezer.

This kitchen is priced at £95 with free delivery and can be ordered through the Great Little Trading Company website. The perfect gift for a toddler, this kitchen is good value for money, and likely to be played with for some time to come.

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Little St John’s ‘Outstanding’

Outstanding 3

Pictured L-R: Miss Alison Flower, Reception Teacher with Mrs Claire Davies, Head of Pre Prep and children from the Nursery and Reception Class

Little St John’s, the Early Years Department of St John’s College in Southsea is celebrating after receiving an ‘outstanding’ inspection report from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) – just one month after the new setting opened.  A co-educational day and boarding school, for ages 2-18 (boarding from Year 5), Little St John’s is located in the heart of Southsea and celebrated its centenary in 2008.

The team of inspectors visited for three days during October and graded the provision for boys and girls aged 2 – 5 as ‘outstanding’ in every category.  The Early Years Department was judged on its leadership and management; how the provision meets the needs of the children; the contribution of the provision to the children’s well-being, and the overall quality and standards of the early years provision.

The report acknowledges the high-quality teaching in both the Nursery and Reception classes alongside ‘expert assessment’ that ensures all children make ‘excellent progress’.  The behaviour of the children is also described as ‘excellent’ as it their ‘outstanding personal and emotional development’ which enables ‘highly effective learning’.  Early years staff were commended for their outstanding contribution to children’s well-being.

You can read the report using this link.

Mr Tony Shrubsall, Head of the Junior School, comments. ” I am delighted with the report – which recognises how we strive to ensure positive relations with our colleagues, parents and children.  I am extremely proud of the children and their teachers. Everybody works so hard here at St John’s College and it is clear that the very high standards we seek are acheieved on a daily basis.”  He continues, “Moving the Nursery into the School has evidently helped improve our provision.  As well as a brand new nursery setting, we had the opportunity to improve access to College facilities; increase security, and we have introduced open plan rooms to help prepare our children for the classroom environment ready for when they progress to our Reception Class”.

Affectionately renamed ‘Little St John’s’ the Nursery and Reception Classes moved location over the summer and re-opened in September.  Complete with new fixtures and fittings, the facility offers enhanced outdoor areas and extended learning opportunities for children aged 2 to 5. To find our more about the school, visit their website.

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Victorian Festival of Christmas: A Review

Last weekend, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard transformed its streets into a Victorian town complete with Fagin’s Tavern and street urchins.  This year’s event was bigger than ever before with the addition of an outdoor cinema and screenings of Frozen with live performers as characters from the film encouraging audiences to sing a long.


Having been invited along to see for myself, I stepped through the gate to be confronted with a mulled wine stall (don’t mind if I do) and a group of chimney sweeps stepping in time. Wherever I looked there were Victorian characters from soldiers to wenches and paupers to suffragettes.  Amongst the shop fronts and stalls were signs for Reindeer and the Frozen sing a long and straight ahead of us stood the beautiful carousel replete with carriages and cantering horses.


Swept along with the chimney sweeps, we followed them through to the Victorian funfair with ferris wheel and helter skelter,  past circus performers, taking us into parts of the Dockyard which are not normally open to the public. Following the road around took us to the indoor market packed with stalls offering unique and boutique gifts, and further still to the outdoor cinema between two buildings.


Although I had tickets for the Frozen screening, due to a combination of a toddler meltdown and my daughter’s sudden inexplicable insistence that she didn’t like Frozen any more, we didn’t make it (which was disappointing for me, as I was really looking forward to it), but as you can see plenty did and all seemed to be having a fantastic time, with the fancy dress competition proving to be very popular. With plenty of seating and three screenings a day meaning it didn’t get too busy or crowded, this was a definite winner.


The Outdoor Cinema

Beyond the cinema we were confronted by the sight of snow falling, and a charming snow covered tree scene complete with Snowmen. A  roast chestnut stall and another street of stalls including Lush toiletries and cosmetics, artisan fudge and cheese marked Richside.  There, we spotted the cast of Cinderella, Groundlings Theatre’s pantomime production for 2014. Small stages and performance areas were spread around the site, with local dance and drama troupes such as The Young Creatives providing live entertainment at regular intervals. If the snow scene wasn’t festive enough, we were soon transported with the arrival of  Victorian characters singing carols.


The star of the show however, for my son at least, was the miniature steam train and track running alongside the National Museum of the Royal Navy, offering rides for just 50 pence.  Further down we popped into the Cabin Room in the Victory Gallery to let the children warm up slightly and found all kinds of snowy themed sensory play and a number of babies and toddlers happily engaged in trying to catch bubbles. For older children there were colouring materials and in the National Museum, a Victorian School Room.


On leaving the Gallery we were treated to the sound of bagpipes and a marching band competing with the live music competing from Fagin’s Tavern. A display of steam engines and Victorian caravans were located in front of HMS Victory along with a charming miniature carousel and more children’s rides were located outside the Mary Rose Museum. Rides varied in price from the very manageable with a smile 50 pence for the train to the slightly more smile through gritted teeth (especially  if you have more than one child) £2.50. If you wanted to avoid all those pay per rides though, there were the usual interactive exhibits and lots of extra activities put on by the museums and attractions, as well as live performances throughout the day.



For the hungry, there were all kinds of treats on offer from baked goods provided by local bakeries, carvery, bubble and squeak, sausages, pasties,  tempura prawns, fresh doughnuts, as well as the many cafes and restaurants already on site. Prices were average for this kind of event, with pasties priced around £3.80 upwards for example.


No review for Mumsnet would be complete without mention of the toilets and baby changing, and there are plenty of these immaculate facilities dotted around the dockyard. Extra toilets were provided, meaning there were no queues, an attention to detail which was much appreciated – very important when you have a toddler with you! One small piece of advice – if you can leave the pushchair at home, then do so.  Although easy underfoot and there are lifts in the museums, it was very busy and the pushchair made it difficult to get to stalls.  You can’t take a pushchair on either HMS Warrior or HMS Victory, and though there are pushchair parks outside both HMS Warrior and HMS Victory, there isn’t anything to lock your pushchair to, and that might well be a nice addition for peace of mind bearing in mind the cost of modern travel systems and pushchairs.

Being local, we hold dockyard passes and so the usual attractions were not the draw for us, which put added pressure on the rest of the event to be exciting for us and for the children. I had a two year old and a six year old with me, both tough critics in their respective ways.  The cabin room is always a hit with both children, as were the additional activities in the museums and these offered us all a chance to warm up after walking through the market. Particular magic moments were provided by ladies on stilts dressed as bells, and scenes from Mary Poppins, for which my children stood stock still, rapt. The rides were less of a hit, which due to cost, were not as frequent as they would have liked, with the exception of the miniature train which, which both children loved and we didn’t mind paying for. If you have never been to the Dockyard before, then the tickets are fantastic value for money as you have entry to all the museums, both HMS Warrior, HMS Victory and you can go on a harbour tour as well as all the extra entertainment, the market and the open air cinema.


The one person we absolutely wanted to see however, proved to be extremely elusive, until suddenly we spotted him as we were leaving, Father Christmas himself – and what a Father Christmas! Dressed in Victorian green wearing a crown of seasonal greenery, he was everything he should be.  Except red, as my  6 year old pointed out. Coca-Cola, you have much to answer for.


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