Treehouses, cricket, a Tardis, and a trip back in time – Newton Meadows

We recently visited the lovely Newton Meadows Cottages in Shropshire, staying in Maple Cottage with extended family. The cottage is one of 3 accessible cottages, and boasts widened doorways, ground floor bedrooms and accessible wet-rooms. We were lucky enough to arrive on a sunny afternoon, and were greeted by the amazing gardens accessible directly from your cottage. The private patios are all securely enclosed and fenced.

Advance warning – because the gardens were so fantastic, we spent most of the time out there and completely omitted to take any internal photos!! You can find internal photos on our accessible holidays website listing or the Newton Meadows website (links below), and can view a video with internal images on our Accessible Holiday Escapes FB page!

The immediate impression of Maple Cottage was that it is so much bigger than it looks on the photos! The living/dining/kitchen area is spacious, and the double-height ceiling and galleried landing add to the sense of light and space. When chatting with the owner Lesley, she said previous guests have commented on the ‘Tardis’ quality of the cottages and how much bigger they are than expected. The cottage sleeps 7 in 4 bedrooms, 2 on the ground floor along with the wet-room. A double and twin are on the first floor and a family bathroom. We liked the little sun-room with great views across the gardens and an extra dining table.

From an accessibility point of view, Maple Cottage was easily navigated by our little wobbler as the main front door is particularly wide and the interior is completely level.

There is a slight lip on the external door from the sun-room to the patio and gardens but she was able to negotiate this.

The gardens are level, beware of the large pond if you have small escapers with no sense of danger like us! There are open views of the surrounding countryside and it’s very calm and peaceful. In the private woodland children can explore the treehouse (definitely a 2 man job lifting Emily into there!) and follow the little paths. The lawns were a very popular cricket, boules and even archery spot. It was lovely to meet the family staying in the other 2 cottages, who were on their 3rd visit.

Newton Meadows Cottages are situated in the village of Harmer Hill, with a local pub serving homecooked food. It is a short drive to the lovely historical town of Shrewsbury for a wander along the river and around the independent shops and market. We have been to Shropshire before and enjoyed return visits to Blists Hill Victorian Town (good accessibility and pass lasts a full year for all 10 museums), and RAF Cosford (you can read our previous blog ‘RAF Cosford – Chocs Away’) for a trip back in time. Although the Covid 19 restrictions meant less was available to see and do at both sites, they are still great days out for the family.

Thanks to Lesley and Ed for a warm welcome! Newton Meadows Cottages are a great spot for an accessible country escape, close to a lovely town with great amenities, pretty local villages and loads of local attractions and activities for all ages (including the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Ironbridge). Maple Cottage felt very private, but would also be great for a multi-generational or large group holiday. (Oak Cottage also sleeps 7 and Chestnut Cottage sleeps 4). Hop over to our website listing or the cottages own website to find out more – and fire over any questions!

Lincolnshire – Accessible Family Adventures!

We recently stayed at The Stables at Elms Farm Cottages in Lincolnshire, and thought we would share with you a couple of our accessible adventures! After a crazy few months we spent most of our time just relaxing and exploring the fantastic gardens and 18 acres of private land at Elms Farm, but did venture out a couple of times.

The Stables is close to lots of family attractions such as Lincoln Castle and Cathedral, Boston Stump, RSPB sites, Tattershall Farm Park, National Trust properties, and the beaches of Skegness are within driving distance. You can also hop on a train to Lincoln or Skegness just a few minutes walk from the cottages! Lots of information on accessible attractions are available on the cottage website, and Carol can also recommend lots of lovely places.

For our first trip out, we visited the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln (around 25 minutes from Elms Farm), described on the website as ‘A world-class facility to serve as a point for recognition, remembrance and reconciliation for Bomber Command’. The IBCC has been established to remember the thousands of men and women who were part of Bomber Command’s efforts during WWII, and The Walls of Names in the Peace Gardens carry the names of almost 58,000 men and women who lost their lives.

Entry into the IBCC is timed at the moment and visits have to be pre-booked; social distancing signs and hand hygiene stations were evident throughout. It was really quiet and calm, with numbers kept low to enable social distancing.

It is a fascinating place to visit for all ages, with excellent accessibility. On a personal level it was a very moving experience, as we were able to find out more about a family member lost without trace in WWW 2, and find his name on The Walls of Names, where we were able to place a poppy. The Peace Gardens have a very special atmosphere and have spectacular views across to Lincoln Cathedral.

The IBCC has a drop-off point directly outside the main entrance for guests with accessibility requirements, and the blue badge parking is also close to the main doors. The main centre has level access throughout, accessible toilets, lifts to the 1st floor, and accessible paths in the peace gardens. The IBCC has a hearing loop and subtitling in the exhibition, large print guides, sensory planting, and staff are trained in dementia and autism awareness. The Hub Café has a low access counter, wheelchair-accessible tables, a hearing loop and high contrast tableware.

The exhibition is fascinating and interactive, so keeps little/medium sized people interested, and even sparked enthusiasm in our pre-teen! Not an easy feat.

Of course the shop and cafe always feature heavily in our family trips anywhere, and they were also a hit. We would definitely recommend a visit – take a look at the accessibility information on the website to find out more (link below). Just had to use this wonderful image of the Spire and Walls of Names below – so much better than our overcast images!

One of our other trips out was to Springfields Outlet Village and Adventure Land near Spalding, also around 20-25 minutes from Elms Farm Cottages. There is a good selection of high street and designer outlet shops, cafes and restaurants at this small outlet village, and the holiday money was rapidly disposed of in one of the toy shops. There is a lovely garden area with picnic benches and deckchairs where you can feed the ducks, and just beyond that is Adventure Land.

We cooled off with delicious ice-cream from Springy’s Diner, then Emily enjoyed a double run on Springy’s Railroad.
Other activities at Adventure Land include the Tree Top Village, Dino Golf, Springy’s Beach, a climbing wall and JCB Young Driver’s Zone, but these were either inaccessible or too young for Emily. Adventure Land is level and spacious, but we would recommend researching the accessibility of the actual activities in advance. Access information on the website seems limited, but the FAQ link is below.

We had a relaxing family break at The Stables, one of 9 accessible cottages at Elms Farm Cottages, and made the most of the open spaces and private land. Hopefully this will give you a few ideas for accessible adventures, but lots more information is available on the Elms Farm Cottages website!

Secret Doors and Outdoor Spaces – The Stables

We were delighted to be invited to stay at The Stables at Elms Farm Cottages in Lincolnshire for a few days at the beginning of the school holidays, a much needed break after months of homeschooling and homeworking. If you are hoping to unwind, relax (sort of, with 1 small person and one medium-large), visit local accessible attractions, and just make the most of wide open spaces – this is the place for you. The Stables is one of 9 accessible cottages at Elms Farm Cottages, all furnished to a high standard with stylish soft furnishings, modern kitchens, leather sofas, wooden floors, and TVs in all double and king-size bedrooms.

The Stables is a 5* Grade II listed barn conversion, a beautiful looking building which from the outside looks quite cute and quaint – step inside and you will be amazed by the size and space of your holiday accommodation. We were given a warm welcome by Carol, who kindly left a welcome pack of local Lincolnshire produce – we highly recommend the famous Boston sausages!

A large open-plan kitchen/dining/living room greets you, with double height ceiling and original beams. To the left is a fully-fitted modern kitchen, dining table with seating for 6, and to your right a spacious living room with leather sofas and armchairs, wall-mounted TV and pedestal wood-burner.

The Stables has a wide corridor leading to the bedrooms and bathroom, with original brickwork and beams. There is a spacious wet-room with level-entry shower, and 3 spacious bedrooms (1 en-suite with shower over large bath). All the bedrooms have zip and link beds, so you can choose a variety of configurations. If you have watched our video tour, you will see just how enormous the beds are!

The interior of The Stables is completely level and was very easy for Emily to negotiate, which always means we can relax a little more. There is a slight step/lip at the threshold entrance which didn’t pose a problem, it may have been a little trickier when Emily was still using a rollator, but if you check with Carol before booking she can chat with you about that. All the measurements and detail are also included in a very detailed access guide.

The 2 largest bedrooms at The Stables have plenty of space around the huge beds, and there is level access into the wet-room (with grab rail and shower chair), and en-suite bathroom. Guests can request additional equipment such as a shower wheelchair, perching stools, bed rails, bath step and bath seat, and specialised equipment such as a hoist can be hired from a local mobility company.

The Stables is a luxurious and spacious property, and the icing on the cake for us was the amazing outdoor spaces. It is set slightly apart from the other cottages, with a large lawned area directly in front of your private patio; but can be cleverly connected to Beech Cottage next door (spot the secret door in our video over on our Accessible Holiday Escapes FB page!).

The other cottages are set around a pretty courtyard and the accessible Granary Wedding Barn (see separate post), and Elms Farm also has 18 acres of private land available exclusively to guests, including an accessible garden lodge seating up to 22 with pizza oven and BBQ, large paddocks (with robot lawnmower!), wildflower meadows with mown pathways, and small lakes.

Elms Farm is just a 5 minute drive from the market town of Boston where you can find a Tesco Extra and other supermarkets, take-aways, restaurants, etc. Around 30 minutes drive is the cathedral city of Lincoln (look out for a post on local accessible attractions).

We loved having a quiet family break at The Stables, and could see how fantastic a venue it would be for multi-generational holidays, family and friends get-togethers, weddings, conferences and so much more. You can take a look at our video tours of the Granary, the outdoor spaces, and The Stables over on our Accessible Holiday Escapes FB page. If you would love to stay at The Stables (or one of the other luxury cottages), just follow one of these links.

Huge thank you to Carol for a wonderful stay!

A Day and a Knight at Chirk Castle

We popped back to Chirk Castle near Oswestry on another sunny Sunday today. Chirk Castle is situated in a 480 acre estate with lots to see and explore. We joined the National Trust last summer with a £10 Junior Membership for Emily and an Essential Companion’s Card which has been fantastic value and gives us girls places to go and explore.

Just like all attractions built in the late 13th century, accessibility isn’t entirely straightforward but lots of measures are in place to try and make Chirk Castle as accessible as possible. There are accessible parking spaces close to the Visitors Centre and a wheelchair accessible shuttle bus which takes you up to the main castle. Undoubtedly the bus trip, shop and café are Emily’s highlights….

The bus takes you to the main entrance of the castle and very close to the entrance to the grounds. We spent most of our time in the gardens last time as the main house was closed for the Winter. There are lots of level paths and lawns, and accessible paths dotted about.

The main courtyard area which leads to the main house, servants hall, dungeons, shop and café is slightly more challenging as there are cobbles and more uneven surfaces. Emily can manage surfaces like this with help and there are a few ramped options. Most places are reached down 1 or 2 steps or have a lip leading into them, so a very close eye needed on the escaper extraordinaire. We tucked into our picnic in the courtyard area!

We give most things a bash with Emily, and will tackle physically challenging things like cobbles, mud, sand, or walks in the woods to try and make sure she doesn’t miss out on anything. We know she will need extra help and it’s sometimes a 2 man job but it’s important to us that we can do as much as possible as a family.

However, we had to draw the line today at the stone spiral staircase down to the Dungeons! There was no way Emily could have managed them and I’m not sure there would be a way for the NT to make them accessible. They are a bit hair raising even if you can manage them!

The main house (or East Wing) is now open, and we made our way in using the wheelchair ramp access entrance. The house has a spacious lower floor with widened doorways and level access throughout – they were ahead of the game in the 13th century in some ways! Wheelchair access to the first floor isn’t available but virtual tours showing the upper levels are available. We managed to reach the first floor using the narrower set of stairs with handrails either side.

After leaving the main house we had a chat with a friendly real-life knight while waiting for the bus, then had our return journey down to Home Farm and the Visitor Centre, with Emily directing operations regarding seating…Back at the Visitor Centre you can find the main shop, a seasonal kiosk, second-hand bookshop, play area and Wild Play area. We had a bash at the play area last time but at the moment there isn’t any accessible play equipment.

Chirk Castle is a lovely place to visit and is very family and dog-friendly. There is lots to see and do inside and out, and lots of different activities during the year. It’s really important to read the accessibility guide before visiting as the stairs, cobbles and hills are more challenging, but knowledge is power! We were able to access most areas of the castle, it would have been a little more difficult when Emily was still using a rollator or we were using the adapted pushchair, but not impossible! All the information you need is in the access statement, just copy and paste the link.

The National Trust have put lots of extra measures in place like ramp access to the East Wing, a shuttle bus and accessible parking spaces. It would be fantastic to see new accessibility features like some accessible play equipment and even a Changing Places facility, but we appreciate 700 year old buildings present some challenges to modern day accessibility needs!

We have some wonderful accessible holiday accommodation listed on our website which are all within an hours drive of Chirk Castle. Just copy and paste the link below and take a look!

Taking it easy at Croft Bungalow

We were delighted to be invited to stay at Croft Bungalow in the pretty village of Birchover in Derbyshire, a short drive from the popular town of Bakewell and it’s famous pudding! We are fans of Derbyshire and have visited Bakewell a couple of times, so were excited to be heading back and staying in one of the accessible properties listing on our website Not so much a business trip though, more a family with accessibility needs having the chance to see this lovely bungalow for ourselves!

Steve gave us a warm welcome on our arrival on a cold, dark Friday night. Croft Bungalow is tucked away in a peaceful spot overlooking uninterrupted views of local farmland, and the beautiful garden and view awaited us in daylight the next morning…(I’ve mixed in some of our winter photos with Steve’s lovely summer photos below so you can admire it in all seasons!)

We have made a short video of Croft Bungalow, hop over to our Accessible Holiday Escapes FB page, photos are brilliant but I think videos really help you to decide if a property is going to work for you. Croft Bungalow is lovely and spacious, hopefully this comes across in the video – I will add a few photos though!

Croft Bungalow is a wheelchair accessible property which has been carefully renovated and adapted, and has 2 spacious bedrooms, a modern kitchen/diner, a spacious, light living room with countryside views, and a stylish wet-room. It is really comfortable and cosy even in winter, with lovely beds and sofas to help you chill out! The lounge has not one but 2 riser/recline chairs which are really comfortable (tip – unplug these if you have a small person who will be intrigued by the power at their fingertips….)

The main bedroom has twin/double beds but a wide variety of configurations can be arranged for you (see website!), and the second bedroom has a single electric profiling bed, and plenty of room for a camp bed. (This room can also be turned into a pop-up sensory room). There is lots of equipment available to loan including an Oxford mobile hoist, wheeled shower chair/commode, static shower chair, zimmer frame, and more. Details of local care agencies can be provided.

So to the award-winning wheelchair safari sensory garden! It’s very rare (or possibly unheard of) for us to find a garden that is completely accessible to Emily, other than our own which involved major groundworks to make it accessible and safe; so it was an amazing experience to be able to stand still and watch both our children just explore and play together. The story of the garden and the artists impression framed in the kitchen, tells you just how much planning and care went into it.

The private parking space is next to the back door, if you require ramped access, it’s a short distance along the side of the house to the ramp leading in through the front door.

Croft Bungalow is a lovely place to stay in all year round and you will feel yourself switching off to the stresses of the outside world! It is in a peaceful spot (with 2 foodie pubs within 100m) but is only 10 minutes from Bakewell, and 15 minutes from Chatsworth and Matlock.

Thanks again Steve and Ruth!

Find out more about Croft Bungalow on

*We were invited to stay at Croft Bungalow for the weekend but all views and opinions are of Team Flying Bumblebee*

Chocs Away – RAF Cosford

At last my thoughts have returned to my little bumblebee blog and here is a belated review of the fabulous Royal Air Force Museum in Shifnal, Shropshire!

Our second stay at the lovely Sambrook Manor Cottages near Newport in Shropshire (see our blog from last summer – Shropshire Sunshine) and a first time trip to RAF Cosford, this time as a family of 6. Accessibility is (obviously) at the forefront of our minds when planning a day out, and this time we also had my dad and his mobility scooter.

The short version is that RAF Cosford is completely accessible and is a fantastic family day, with genuinely something for everyone. It is also that rarity of being free to enter! There is blue badge parking close to the visitor centre, and everywhere is level with widened doorways. There is clear information about accessibility on the website and an excellent access statement with photos.

All the exhibition hangars are level with wide pathways, the National Cold War Exhibition hangar is on 2 levels but there is a lift and also a platform lift for 2 people. The floor surfaces are mostly concrete and all displays and barriers are at a low level.

Hangar 1 had some great activities for all ages, including a Virtual Reality Zone giving you a sample of a daredevil ride in a Spitfire, and a simulator flight! All areas of the museum have activities for all ages and interactive displays.

The sight of the WW1 and WW2 planes up close is almost like an optical illusion as you move through the museum and is just so impressive, and also an emotional experience being able to see the plane and gun turret a family member lost during a flight in WW2 would have flown in when serving as an air gunner.

The National Cold War Exhibition is equally impressive, with an opportunity to experience the intelligence hubs of the USA and of course more planes up close.

And of course we can’t forget the essentials of any family day out – the café and the shop! The main restaurant/café is back in the visitor centre, and there is a small café in the National Cold War Exhibition centre, along with a shop with lovely gifts, memorabilia, sweets and treats, and our family favourite – expensive tat!

You won’t fail to be impressed by a day out at RAF Cosford, there is so much to see and do that we didn’t actually see everything, so a return visit will be on the cards. I didn’t take enough photos to do it justice but then again I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Fantastic facilities, great accessibility, fascinating glimpse into the past and amazing exhibitions and experiences – what’s not to like? Oh and it’s open daily and it’s free entry. Why not head down there for some half-term fun and enjoy the ‘Drones, Robots and Virtual Reality’ themed week. Chocs Away!

Hoewal, Rhydolion Holidays – a guest reviewer!

Take a look at this fab review by a guest writer – the lovely Jools telling us all about her trip to stay at Hoewal Cottage at Rhydolion Holidays on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, a really detailed and helpful review for those with accessibility requirements!

Time of stay: 2019.
Staying – 4 adults, including one permanent wheelchair user.

We booked through the “Best of Wales” holiday cottage booking site, looking specifically for an adapted cottage. We booked their six-bed cottage, though our party comprised of only four adults. Our daughter and son-in-law have stayed in adapted accommodation multiple times before, and have noted that for some people, the word “adapted” can be a very loose term. However, the booking gave the option of three different shower chairs for the wetroom, as well as a hoist for the bedroom attached. It also promised level access throughout, so it looked as though our wheelchair user would be accommodated for.

We were heading for Rhydolion from two different places in the UK, and although the booking form stated that parking was available on site, we thought it as well to check that there would be two spaces available. Rhydolion is a working farm, as well as being a holiday site, but we were assured there would be ample space to put both vehicles without compromising the day-to-day running of the farm.

We arrived at Rhydolion on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, and were utterly delighted with what we found. As promised there was more than enough parking, and right outside the door of “Hoewal”, the cottage where we were staying. It was part of a complex of four cottages and a games room, ranged around one half of the large yard, which were clearly converted sections of the farmhouse and farm outbuildings. “Hoewal” had evidently had an extension which, it transpired, was to facilitate the inclusion of the wetroom.

The front door opened into a large lounge, which included a log burner at one end of it. This space opened into a dining area, from which access to the enclosed yard was gained via patio doors. At the other side of the dining area was a galley kitchen, which had plenty of space for wheelchair access and a large larder-style fridge-freezer, as well as a modern, well-appointed kitchen supplied with a washing machine, dryer, microwave and toaster, as well as a halogen hob and electric oven.

The bedroom with wetroom was accessed via a door from the lounge, and the double bed in the room had the advantage of being an electric adjustable bed. The large wetroom opened up off this bedroom, giving privacy and ample space for changing etc.

The other bedrooms and a second bathroom were accessed from the opposite side of the lounge, via a short hallway. The double room had access for a wheelchair at one side of the bed, and the twin room easily accommodated a wheelchair as well. The second bathroom contained a jacuzzi bath and the toilet in this bathroom had adjustable grab rails around it.

Our wheelchair user immediately set about exploring the cottage, and was delighted to be able to access every room with ease. He was pleased to see how much space there was in all the rooms, as he has found in other accommodation that it hasn’t been possible for him to get about everywhere within the building.

The cottage was beautifully decorated and very comfortable. The gas central heating boiler was in a wooden cupboard in the corridor towards the second bathroom, and the cottage was cosy throughout the cool evenings in early May. On arrival, we found a plate of home-made bara brith waiting for us, along with a jug of fresh milk alongside tea and coffee – a lovely, thoughtful touch from the owners. On reading Rhydolion’s own website, it transpires that Kathryn makes celebration cakes to order, for anyone booking the cottages for a special birthday or anniversary.

There was free wifi in the cottage, of sufficient capacity to accommodate the usage required by all four of us. The views from the adapted bedroom and from the enclosed yard were gorgeous, uninterrupted vistas of Llyn Peninsula farmland. At night it was so quiet we could hear the waves crashing on to Hell’s Mouth beach (Porth Neigwl on the maps) about a mile away across the fields, and the skies were so dark it felt as though we could see halfway across the galaxy. We watched shooting stars and satellites most nights, as the weather was kind to us and stayed sunny on most days.

The farm also has a field across the lane from the farmyard for camping and for touring caravans, the laundry room for which is at the other end of the run of cottages from “Hoewal”. The games room is a shared facility for the camping/caravanning area and the cottages. Behind the enclosed yard at “Hoewal” is the play area for both sets of visitors, but as we were staying during term time we didn’t see or hear many little ones.

There was an extensive information folder in the cottage, giving details not only of the cottage and its facilities, but the history of the area, and places to visit and eat in the locality.

Abersoch village is an easy five-minute drive away through the lanes, but due to its restricted parking and lack of grocery shops (it has become a tourist village in the years since I visited with family as a child), we shopped in Pwllheli, about a quarter of an hour away by car.

Pwllheli’s central carpark has free parking for blue badge vehicles, and is the site of the weekly market on a Wednesday. It is well served with shops, having a good mix of big brand retailers (Lidl, B&M, Home Bargains, Subway) as well as smaller local shops. “Buffers” café at the railway station was soon a firm favourite, and the staff there were very accommodating for the large motorized chair our wheelchair user employed to help him travel around when we went out. They have a large undercover area behind the café, between the café and the railway station, supplied with fleece blankets for cooler days if you want to sit outside, but which had plenty of space and was easily accessed from the main building. Note – this area is not completely enclosed, and is part of the access for the railway station. Small or adventurous children would need close supervision in the outdoor seating area.

Rhydolion’s owners were very friendly and solicitous, chatting with us whenever they saw us, and always mentioning that if we needed anything, we should feel free to knock at the farmhouse door.

We can thoroughly recommend Rhydolion. Indeed, our wheelchair user stated that he had never before stayed in such ideal accommodation, and that he would be happy to move in there at a moment’s notice.

Sunshine in Port Sunlight

The hunt for somewhere a) fun for all 4 of us, b) somewhere that isn’t linked to cricket or basketball but is interesting to an 11 year old and c) accessible, is a regular challenge… Looking for something to do for an hour or two on a rare cricket-free Sunday, we decided to pay a visit to Port Sunlight Village on the Wirral, only a short distance away from us. There was some access information on the website, whether or not it would entertain an 11 year old and 7 year old remained to be seen….

What a lovely little place, as soon as you turn off the main road across the Wirral, you are transported back in time. Port Sunlight is a quaint and peaceful village built in 1888 by William Hesketh Lever to provide housing for the workers in his ‘Sunlight Soap’factory. Today the village has a museum, art gallery, beautiful gardens and a thriving community.

We started with a visit to the Port Sunlight Museum, parking was brilliant as we easily found a free spot outside the museum. There is level access to the museum, and the reception, exhibitions and shop are all on the ground floor. There is an accessible toilet and a lift to the tea room on the first floor. Entrance fee is very reasonable and there are carer/disabled visitor concessions.

The museum is fab for all ages, and you can take as long or as little as you like to wander around. The history and story of Port Sunlight is absolutely fascinating, I can honestly say I am a bit hooked *obsessed* and want to find out more…I won’t spoil the story too much by giving detail of all the exhibitions but not only will you find out more about Port Sunlight’s fascinating history including the architecture and the lively social scene, but also find out more about The Beatles, World War II and early marketing strategies for soap!

There is plenty for children to do with interactive activities. Our 2 were overly mystified by the concept of a phone that you couldn’t walk around with or check the cricket scores on…

After a wander around the shop we paid a visit to Number 22 next door, an opportunity to take a step back in time to a worker’s cottage furnished as it would have been in Edwardian times.

I think recreated spaces are wonderful at helping children really get a feel for history, and a trial run of wash day gave them an appreciation of the modern day washing machine!

After visiting Number 22 we were ready to hit the tea shop. The café at the Port Sunlight Museum was closed for a private function but the friendly staff directed us to the café at the very accessible Lady Lever Art Gallery directly across the road. We then had a wander around the open areas outside the museum and gallery just as the sunshine finally made an appearance, before (reluctantly *for me*) heading back into the 21st Century.

Next stop Portmeirion and Bournville to satisfy my new model village obsession….

A Flying Bumblebee chat with……Hannah’s Hope!

Welcome to another Flying Bumblebee chat, this time with Hannah Deakin! Hannah is 28 years old and is a disability blogger over at ‘Hannah’s Hope’. Hannah suffered an injury as a young teenager, went on to develop several illnesses and secondary complications, and as a result is now a powerchair user. Hannah fundraises for Starlight Children’s Foundation and is a Disability Ambassador for the White Lodge Centre. She is also a public speaker and runs workshops raising awareness of disability.

Hannah very kindly agreed to take part in my mini-interview series and has shared her accessible travel tales!

When and where did you have your first holiday following your injury and after becoming a powerchair user? How did you feel before you went and was it how you expected?

My first holiday following my injury and becoming a powerchair user was my Starlight wish in 2013. I had not been on holiday since 2005, so for my wish I asked to go on a family holiday. We went to London for just under a week and it was amazing. Although I had spent many years in London, it was in hospital there, so it was lovely to actually see it! We were lucky that most things were organised by Starlight, so a lot of stress was taken away. Mum and Dad went up to the hotel prior to our stay to do a recki, check what they had there and that everything would work! Luckily, it wasn’t too far to do that as you couldn’t really do that if you were going abroad! I was really excited before the trip. It was my first holiday in 8 years! I was also slightly apprehensive that everything was going to work. It was amazing. Lovely to have a break and do enjoyable things. I have since been on a family holiday to Winchester. It worked so well we have been there twice.

Do you ever find it difficult to get the balance right between finding a holiday that is suitable for your whole party but can also meet your accessibility needs?

Yes, definitely. We like a hotel as opposed to self-catering accommodation, it means we don’t need to worry about shopping and cooking, everyone can have more of a break and it is one less thing to worry about. Many hotels though, do not have the facilities I require. Some hotels that are more set up for disabilities, often seem like they are more for the elderly and I am 28! Others, could accommodate my needs but are more institutionalised with many visitors with learning disabilities. They look wonderful for some people and I am glad they are out there, but I am mentally very bright and able, I just have high physical needs.
Also they would not fit my parents needs either and we like to try and do what a family without a disability wants to on holiday, and emphasise my ability not disability.

What are your top requirements when searching for holidays and how much luck do you have finding these?!

Our top requirements are that the hotel is wheelchair accessible, has a wet room, interconnecting rooms, somewhere that will take their bed out so we can put a hired electric bed and air mattress in, car parking and somewhere that is not too far distance wise. It is important that there is somewhere nearby that we can hire equipment from (electric bed and air mattress). Nice food is also important! We struggle to find places that meet these requirements.

What reassurances would you offer other travellers with a disability considering their first holiday or accessible day out?

It is difficult and challenging to find accessible breaks, but it is great to have a break, have a day out or a holiday. I recommend researching and planning as much as possible to avoid unexpected hurdles. Start somewhere fairly local and then spread your wings further a field!

And finally……How would you summarise, “Holiday Happiness?”

I would summarise holiday happiness as a relaxing break with easy accessibility, friendly and accommodating staff, warm weather with sunshine (but not too hot), local attractions and places of interest to visit and good food. Somewhere that meets my requirements, so makes the day to day aspects easy so we can enjoy the break.

A big thank you to Hannah for taking the time to tell me more about her accessible adventures and for sharing fantastic tips and reassurances for other travellers!

Buzz on over to Hannah’s blog for more info and her social media links x

Fab but hilly! Center Parcs Woburn Forest

Just a mini review this time following our recent trip to Center Parcs Woburn Forest. I wasn’t planning to write a review as there are plenty to be found online, but having visited I wanted to mention a couple of accessibility-related tips! Owing to a comedy of errors including a forgotten camera battery, a cracked (and continuing to slowly crack) phone screen and a wildfire stomach bug we have almost no photos…This is 1 of only 2 which contain real life people.

We have visited Center Parcs Sherwood Forest a couple of times in the past and found it really accessible (and flat!) There is accessibility information available online for Woburn Forest. The one part of it that seemed to pass us by was the hilly nature of the site! It wouldn’t necessarily put us off a return visit, but a flat site is a lot easier when taking mobility into consideration.

We stayed in a lovely 3 bedroomed Woodland Lodge which had great level access and was very spacious inside.

We didn’t choose to stay in an adapted lodge but the en-suite shower was really spacious.

The only step was from the patio doors out to the barbecue and seating area. In retrospect it would have been a good idea to request an area at the back which was flat, the wooded area behind the lodge would be fab for children to explore but not ideal when a wobbly 7 year is attempting to scramble up unaided…

The main thing I wanted to mention for those who need accessibility tips is the hilly nature of the site! We were at the top of a 10% gradient hill which recommended cyclists dismount on the way down, so you can imagine how unlikely it was that the unfit adults could cycle back up again! Quite embarrassing when small children and pensioners were overtaking but moving on…

Emily isn’t able to ride a bike yet so we use a trailer when out and about. It was pretty impossible to pull that up the steep hill!

There is a shuttle bus service for guests with mobility difficulties which can transport you around the village, and has wheelchair access. We used this one evening as there was no way Emily could manage the walk back, particularly up the hill!

I had a chat with guest services about the location of the adapted lodges, although I think if we were to return to Woburn it would actually be more important to get a good (level) location near the Village Square. The lady in guest services recommended contacting Head Office when booking to ensure your lodge meets your needs.

We are big fans of Center Parcs but hadn’t last visited since Emily was 1 so hadn’t thought about the actual physical layout of the site. We loved our trip and it’s a great place to visit, but if you have accessibility needs make sure you are placed somewhere level!

And of course who needs a £250m Center Parcs site to explore when the Parc Market has mini trolleys?….