Oscar’s Haircut at Little Locks

I try and find the joy in the everyday, well, every day, because that’s what make up life; the little things. But if you follow me at all on social media you will know that this week we’ve had what might be a little thing to many, but to us is a massive cause for celebration.

Oscar’s autism hasn’t shown us too many sensory issues as yet, at least not those you may recognise as typically autistic. He’s OK with sound and pretty cool with new places and crowds. If anything he’s under (hypo) sensitive to things like pain and he looooves to run. But one thing he can’t stand is very typically autistic. He hates, and I mean hates, having his hair cut. We’ve found a way to get him to have his hair brushed (just and only on a good day) and his nails clipped, but despite trying any number of things we just couldn’t get him to have his hair cut.

Oscar hates having his hair cut

Oscar hates having his hair cut

Then at the end of last year a new salon opened in Haslemere. A specialist children hair salon, Little Locks was set up by Hannah Clements and her family. Hannah has many years experience in salon management and her niece, the lovely Georgia, is a fully qualified stylist, specialising in children’s hair. It seemed like a no brainer that the two should come together and open the kind of salon Haslemere was clearly lacking. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found out Little Locks was opening just down the road from us. We’ve tried various salons over the years and, except his first two haircuts, they’ve all been pretty disastrous. We’ve tried having stylists come to the house, including friends he was familiar with, and even I had a go at loping bits off here and there but it made no difference. I got the feeling that if we could get him slowly used to the notion of a haircut, this might help. So when Little Locks opened I decided to discuss my idea with Hannah.

The Little Locks team couldn’t have been more understanding. Hannah’s son is also autistic, so she knew the angle I was coming from straight away. She told me one of the reasons they had decided to open a children’s salon was because as a family, they were acutely aware of the need for sensitivity around something as potentially anxiety inducing as a child’s hair cut. The salon on Weyhill is a large airy space, with a choice of cool chairs (Bat Car anyone?), TVs at every station, with a huge choice of DVDs to watch and a play area. But the thing that impressed me the first time I went in was how open and calm the environment was. One of my big dislikes about other childrens salons I’d been in was the amount of stuff everywhere. Hair products, toys and books to buy. Pester power purchases for some parents, but needless stimulation for my guy. I’ve also been put off other salons by how geared towards girls the decor has been. Little Locks has avoided this, with beautifully gender neutral decoration, and toys (to play with not buy) and cool touches designed to appeal to both male and female customers.

So at Hannah’s suggestion we started the process of familiarising Oscar with the salon back in January. Initially we just popped in to play. And he loved it. Then we made an appointment just for him to play with Georgia, all of which he happily did. He still wouldn’t even let her brush his hair though. This carried on regularly for eight weeks. We got to the point that he loved going in there. He would talk about the salon at home, he would even ask to go to ‘Haircut’, but every time we went in, he would refuse to have anyone touch his hair and just wanted to play. Usually with their train set!

Oscar loves the trains at Little Locks

Oscar loves the trains at Little Locks

Despite all the haircut episodes of cartoons we were watching (I particularly recomend Dora and Team UmiZoomi!) and the amount of children he’d seen having their hair done at Little Locks, I started to worry. Had I gone over board with the ‘letting him get used to it’ shtick? Would he ever understand that Little Locks was a place to actually have a haircut, and not just to play?

Things have slowly come to a head over the past few weeks. We are going to Devon for his birthday/Easter holiday this week and his hair was getting so long and so heavy over his eyes that he actually couldn’t see properly. I decided I was just going to have to take the horse by the reigns. Even if I was going to have to pin him down, he had to at least get his fringe cut. It was starting to be dangerous to leave it any longer. So I made him an appointment on Tuesday. Hannah and I found a time when the salon would be as quiet as possible and they booked an extra long time slot for him.

The morning of the appointment I drew him a very basic visual timetable, explaining he was going in the buggy, to Little Locks, that he would have his hair cut ?? and then he could play with their trains ? and go to Dylan’s for ice cream?. He was NOT happy with this plan, but we went over it several times and I calmly explained that while I knew he didn’t like it, that it was going to happen. When it came to leave we went through it again and he screwed up the timetable, but got into the buggy without a fuss. The fact that he did that, I hoped bode well for the rest of it.

We arrived at the salon without incident and he immediately tried to run to the toys. I gently explained that these would come after the hair cut and led him over to the chairs. It became quickly apparent that he wasn’t ready to sit in the car chair alone yet, so we headed to the other end of the salon to the more grown up chairs and he sat on my lap. Georgia set up Ben and Holly (Oscar’s choice) on the DVD and I held on tight as she started on the fringe.

Yes he shouted (a lot) to begin with, and squirmed but nothing like as much as he has done on previous attempts. Last year he struggled so hard I pulled all the muscles in my back trying to hold onto him. This was nothing like that. Yes he didn’t like it. And that’s ok. Once he realised that this really was happening he focused on watching Ben and Holly, laid his head on my chest and stopped wriggling. With just an occasional protestation to ensure we still understood he wasn’t enjoying the situation!

Georgia worked quickly and thoroughly giving him as neater a style as she could manage without needing to get too close to the ears or to use the clippers. One step at a time after all. She was even able to use the thinning scissors to take some of the weight out of his hair. As soon as she finished, he jumped down and I stripped his tshirt off to ensure we got rid of as much hair as possible (as I thought trying to get him wearing a gown was probably a step too far yet). And we were done.

He looked AH MAY ZING darling!

A super smart boy plays with the long awaited toys

A super smart boy plays with the long awaited toys

We ran and found the trains and the toys and he played happily. He even found a box of deelyboppers the salon use when they host one of their popcorn and pamper parties and put one on!!! This from the child who would refuse a hat in the depths of winter! He laughed, he showed us toys, he even asked to get in the Bat Car and had great fun ‘driving fast’.

DeeleyBopper time!

DeeleyBopper time!

"Drive fast mummy"

“Drive fast mummy”

Afterwards Georgia and I were both genuinely a bit emotional. All that planning and perseverance and patience and here he was like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. I was full to the brim with pride and gratitude. Georgia told me that it’s times like this that make her job worth doing and that really touched me.

We let him play for a while and then I explained it was time to go and without question he got in the buggy and wolfed the lolly Geogia gave him. I left feeling so proud. I felt like everyone on the street must be able to know by looking at him what monumentous event had just happened in our lives.

So I want to say thank you. To all the team at Little Locks for baring with us all these months and never making us feel anything less than welcome. To Georgia and Hannah for being patient and caring and truly understanding what we needed from you.

And to Oscar. I know you didn’t enjoy it my darling. I hope playing with the trains, and the magazine, the Rocky Dog, the ice cream and the Rocket Ship I got you on the way home helped make up for that. But thank you for trusting me. And making me feel like what I do for you, everything I do for you, is worth it.

My beautiful blue eyed boy

My beautiful blue eyed boy, with his smart new hair.

 

 

 

Thank you so much to Hannah and the team at Little Locks Haslemere. I know your business will go from strength to strength. I was not paid to write this review and I paid for Oscar’s haircut with my own money.

You can book an appointment with any of Little Locks stylists on their website. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram

 

 

A Cornish Mum

 

 

Millie Jones Hair – a review

I’m a really cautious Twitter follower. If someone follows me, I don’t just automatically follow back. I take the time to check out who they are. If they’re not interesting to me (sorry children’s footie clubs in Raynes Park we have nothing in common) I don’t follow back. Controversial maybe, but just the way I am! A few weeks ago I was followed by @milliehair. When I looked I saw they were a new hair salon, Millie Jones Hair, opening in Haslemere. Now this I was interested in. We don’t live in a big place and new local businesses, particularly those of interest to me or my family, are always going to be worth checking out. A new hair salon? It was beyond interesting, I was properly excited.

I don’t know about you, but to me a hairdresser is easy to find but difficult to stay with. When I moved to Swansea it took me a few goes but I eventually stumbled on Paul at Boosh. He listened to me and understood what I was aiming for every time. I was gutted when I had to pack up and come back to England, leaving him and everything else I had come to love in South Wales. I moved to Haslemere four years ago and despite various attempts at various salons I’ve not found someone I liked enough to go back to (except a girl I had in Toni & Guy Guildford. Unfortunately I never seemed to be able to get another appointment with her when I needed it, so I gave up trying the end). For me, its not just about the actual cut (although that is a big part of it). I need to feel comfortable, both with the stylist and in a salon itself. I’ve had terrible experiences where I’ve spent the whole time feeling awkward and uncomfortable, have been made to feel like I was just a number, or worse ignored entirely (when I say NOT a Rachel cut, I mean NOT a Rachel cut). There’s such arrogance in ignoring your client and I can assure you such behaviour has never resulted in repeat business from me.

The Rachel cut. Looked great on her in the mid 90s. Not on me. Ever!

The ‘Rachel’ cut. Looked great on her in the mid 90’s. Not on me. Ever!

Now that I have Oscar, taking time to get my hair cut is more of a luxury than I can explain. So if I get that time and I’m spending what little money I have, I want to enjoy the experience. I want to feel pampered and looked after and I want to be listened to in a comfortable environment. Basically I want the best experience for my time and money. I have tried having my hair cut at home and don’t get me wrong the outcome was great, but it’s just not the same. I love the feeling a great salon visit can give you, so I decided to give Millie Jones a go. Last Saturday.

From the off it was clear this was different to any other salons I’ve visited locally. The decor is cool and relaxing, in shades of monchrome, the waiting armchairs a vibrant pop of red. The bold gold lettering on the wall are minimal and elegant. The salon has around 12 seats, but unlike other salons I couldn’t see any equipment or clutter. I was greeted by Millie herself then shown to my seat and provided with a frothy coffee and magazines. Millie explained to me that her specialism was colour, so Kate would be cutting my hair. We chatted briefly then she left me to my coffee (warm coffee that hasn’t been heated twice in the microwave? What decadence was this??)

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First time I’ve been to a salon and the gown’s fitted me perfectly – happy moment right there!

The salon wasn’t quiet, so much as peaceful, with cool chill out tunes coming through the speakers. This was a far cry from the high energy, non stop noise I’ve experienced in other salons. My hair was washed by a lovely apprentice and we chatted about her career and how glad she was to have found this placement. Then I met Kate, my stylist. I explained that I have been growing my hair for some time now and am happy with the style I have at the moment, having taken forever to grow out layers I was always talked into having. I was concerned that she didn’t take too much off, but enough so that it looked healthy and fresh. Kate is a very experienced stylist (17 years she told me) and was sure to give me the very best of what I’d described, explaining that any new client should stick with a stylist for at least three appointments before changing their style, as it takes that long to get to know both the client and the hair. She used products I’d never come across before – Living Proof from the US. As she rightly noted, my hair doesn’t feel like it looks. People think it’s thick, but it’s actually fine, there’s just a lot of it. So she used their No Frizz Weightless Styling Spray. It not only smelt great, but it also took any frizz out of my fine hair without making it lank (I think I might have to purchase, when I’ve got a bit more money 😉 ) Kate did a fantastic job and I was really pleased with the outcome. Not too much off, and looking really sleek.

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Before I left I chatted with Millie, the owner and colourist. She explained that she’d been in the business for 25 years, working in Mayfair and Knightsbridge and loved what she did, but felt the need for more work life balance (she has two young children). Hence the decision to open her own salon, somewhere where her particularly dedicated clientele could follow her (from all over the South East it would seem!). I guess when you find someone you trust to colour your hair you’ll travel to reach them. Although going back to Swansea might have been a stretch for me!

I left with a great hair cut, feeling relaxed and just a little bit gorgeous. I couldn’t help the odd swish of the hair here and there. I definitely attracted a few glances, although I couldn’t work out if that was because I was looking so good, or because I was swishing my head about!

So big question did I like it there enough to go back? Do you know I think I did. Not only was the cut I got first rate it was the little things I appreciated. Like the mirrors not going from floor to ceiling (I find it really uncomfortable sitting in front of a full length view of myself for an hour!), the chairs that could be raised really high (I’m tall so they normally drop them right down and then sit to cut my hair which is can be quite uncomfortable for me), and the golden coloured spoon that came with the coffee. You know, stuff that has no bearing on the haircut what so ever, but make this an experience you are happy to repeat. And the most important thing for me, was how easily it ‘styled’ when I next washed it (for styled, read blow dried it til dry.) If it looks fab in the salon, but a dogs dinner once you’ve washed it, then really what’s the point? In terms of cost they’re not the cheapest in the area and neither would I expect them to be. You can check out their price lists here. I think they’re on a par with some prices I’ve paid locally and in Guildford and I know I was much happier with the results.

 

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I was given a free haircut in exchange for an honest write up. I was not paid to write this post. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Mama and More

The Hen House

Bit of backstory. Haslemere is a small town, which has expanded over the years to accommodate the growing number of families moving here. Its about an hour from London so still commutable, but far enough away to offer a more rural way of life (or faux rural as my husband likes to call it).

I’ve not lived in Haslemere that long. 3 years actually. But most of that time I have been pregnant or the mother of a small child. Either way I’ve found myself becoming immersed in the parent scene of this small town. I’ve not really had a choice. And I love it. I think I’ve mentioned before how amazing children can be as ice breakers, and how becoming part of this mummy community has been good for me. We share in a way I’ve never experienced before; clothes, advice, experience and information.

So when something new or newsworthy happens to affect our community, well as you can imagine, the jungle drums start to beat. And when I received a shared link on FB a few weeks ago telling me about a new soft play cafe opening in the town I was beside myself and was quick to share the information.

What I saw was this.

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And this is what I said about it.


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Soft play. Even the name can conjur up images of dirty, bleak industrial units decked out with ball pits and foam slides, all marinated in the smell of frying chips. I can’t prove it (of course) but I swear Oscar got the sickest he’s ever been after a session at one such soft play venue and after conversations with other parents I’m not alone in this concern. So OK I get that kids, particularly older children, don’t care what a place smells like or how dirty the equipment may be or how crap the coffee is. Sometimes they just want to hurl themselves around for a hour. And that’s grand. But I know my friends and I have all said at one time or another, wouldn’t it be nice to have somewhere, we could take the children, they could have a rare old time of it and we could have a relax, without coming away with the gifts of Rotavirus and Eau de Chipfat.

So when I received the link, telling me a new kind of soft play was coming to my local high street. Well. I’m hoping you can imagine just how excited, but cautious I was. Was this really something I was right to get my hopes up about? I shared it myself and started the discussion. Suddenly the buzz was off the computer screen and in the toddler groups and the parks and literally on the streets. The name was whispered in hushed tones, or shouted from the roof tops, eitherway, the local community seems as excited by the Hen House as I am. I had to know more than the sweet but basic holding page would tell me, so I contacted them.

Enter Henri.

Henrietta Paterson is a local mother of five (yup five children, three under the age of five). As she explained to me she has no background in this sort of thing (in her previous life she was a Venture Capitalist, living in the Far East). When she and her family moved back to the UK and unexpectedly had two more children, she decided not to go back to working in the city. However, as she explained, she wanted to do something. How it came about is as random as all good inspiration should be. On chatting to the staff at Applegarth she discovered that their previous plans to build a soft play had been shelved. “I offered to help them, but it just wasn’t something they were interested anymore” Henri told me “Once I started thinking about it though, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I was sick of having to go all the way to Farnham for soft play. I mean what was there was OK, but I felt it could be so much better”.

And with that particular bee in her bonnet, The Hen House was born. Henri’s real bug bear with traditional soft play is that whilst it might be fun for the children, they really aren’t that much fun for the adults and on this point I have to agree. The vision for The Hen House is to provide somewhere the kids can have a wonderful time, and the parents can relax, knowing the children are in a safe and clean environment.

The idea of safety is really being addressed here. There are two levels of security gate, including an electronic one. All staff are DBS (CRB) checked and those who work with the children are all qualified in childcare in some way or another. The Hen House will also have a rule of washing and sanitizing hands on entry, something you don’t always see at these places.

It’s clear on talking with her that Henri is enthusiastic about the new place and it’s lovely to see someone so fired up about something that will benefit the local community. As she explained to me, when she encountered resistance from the council when applying to change the usage of the building, the local retail community rallied round her. They know that having a facility that encourages people into the town will be good for their businesses too! Add to that the plan to provide a bookable creche facility, leaving parents free to shop in peace for up to TWO hours? Well. How could the council ever refuse?!

Henri very kindly showed me round the building when we met. It’s bigger than it looks from the outside, and although it is still currently full of builders and building equipment, she was able to paint me a really clear picture of what is going to go where. There will be a toddler area for running around and a baby zone as well as the soft play equipment. There is also a separate room to be used for classes such as Toddler Cookery, Little French and the ubiquitous Molly Moo Cow. Henri sees the room as a real resource, as it will also be bookable, along with it’s disco floor for children’s parties.

The bit I liked the sound of best is the cafe. The food provided will all be locally sourced where possible, made fresh on site and be healthy and as tasty as possible. As Henri was at pains to tell me, none of it will be fried! Not only is this music to my ears from a gastronomic point of view, it also means you wont leave stinking of old chip fat. The plan is to provide something for everyone from Paninis to baby purees. And decent coffee! The craziest thing (or the best thing you might argue!), she that is currently in the process of being granted a liquor licence! She plans to sell wine, beer & fizz (no hard stuff), because as she said to me “sometimes you just need a little something” Quite!

So, yes I was as impressed with Henri as I was with the idea of the The Hen House. It was wonderful to meet someone with such drive to make something work. She was also incredibly open to discussion and suggestion, leaving me feeling confident about the ability of the Hen House to become a real community facility, one we can all enjoy and use to it’s full potential. She has asked that anyone with ideas or suggestions email her hen@thehen-house.com. Although please don’t ask about the parking. Yes you will have to pay to use the “Waitrose” carpark and no she wont be refunding parking.

Something else she was at pains to explain is that there isn’t a set opening day yet. They are currently waiting for variable things to happen (such as a the floor to dry and the equipment to arrive). But it’s likely to be May time and announcements will be made on Facebook or you can sign up for notifications on their website.

This isnt a review, it can’t be. I haven’t let my son loose on the equipment and been able to sit back and enjoy or had to run after him. Haven’t seen whether he likes it or finds it claustrophobic (like he does at the Herons). Haven’t left him with the creche and been able to enjoy a quiet lunch with my husband (Ben’s first reaction when he saw the webpage). Haven’t tasted the food and decided whether this is value for my hard earnt buck. I can’t tell you if it’s ever so ever so good yet.

But I can’t wait to find out.

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