Welcome to Accessibility Reviews!

Find reviews of places to visit, places to stay and places to eat as well as a few other things! Use the search function if you are after somethings specific or have a look at the map. The links page has some useful websites as well as links to all the places reviewed and a link to an interview I gave to Euan’s Guide, explaining why I set up Accessibility Reviews. Please use the comment function to add more detail to any of my posts – it all helps make this a useful resource for everyone!

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Can beanstalks be accessible? Oh, yes, they can!

Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

Sorry, couldn’t resist! This was our 26th consecutive Theatre Royal pantomime and it’s as good as ever. It happened to be Jack and the Beanstalk, but the title (and plot, such as it is!) are irrelevant – it’s always mayhem!

The auditorium, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
The auditorium, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

This was the first time I had visited the theatre using my powerchair – last year I used my scooter and sat in a theatre seat. This year I stayed in my powerchair. We had booked seats in the Dress Circle but during the afternoon of the day of our visit, we got a phone call to say that their lift was broken so we would have to be either accommodated in the stalls, choose to go on a different night or be refunded. This was disappointing but as we were all geared up to going to the theatre that evening, we didn’t want to cancel and there is no way we would have got suitable seats for another performance before Christmas so we went anyway.

They told us to make ourselves known to a steward once we got there and they would sort us out. The first steward we spoke to didn’t seem to understand what the issue was but then we spoke to Rita (who’s been there over 40 years!) who was really helpful. She had been told to give us a programme free but as we’d already bought one, she went off and got us a refund! I sat next to the end of a row with Pete in a chair next to me. The visibility wasn’t perfect: you couldn’t quite see the very left hand side of the stage but it wasn’t a major problem as most of the action is of course centre stage. When it came to the interval, Rita let us off paying for our ice creams. Brilliant PR from the Theatre Royal! We might even go again…

Foyer, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
Foyer, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

If you’re familiar with the theatre, but haven’t visited since they refurbished it, I would recommend taking a look as it is so much more accessible than it was. There is now a bar at ground floor level and a lift that takes you up just a few steps to the bar that was there before and, of course when it’s working, a lift that takes you up to the Dress Circle. For more details and lots of photos, see my review from last year.

Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

You don’t have to be a local to enjoy the panto at the Theatre Royal and there was plenty of audience participation, particularly booing and hissing the baddie and lots of applause for Berwick Kaler, back from major heart surgery and Martin Barrass, recovered from a very serious motorbike accident. They have booster seats for people who need them and there are British Sign Language interpreted performances, audio described and subtitled performances.

Performances continue until 3rd February. I don’t know about the availability of wheelchair spaces – it’s worth phoning up to discuss what you want. Hopefully they’ll get that lift fixed soon!

Goday, My Lord Sire Christemas

York Waits

Definitely feeling Christmassy now, thanks to The York Waits! There is somehow something very festive about crumhorns, shawms, sackbuts and rebecs!

York Waits
York Waits

Yes, we’ve been to the National Centre for Early Music and actually seen some early music for once – usually we see what I suppose you’d call World Music and occasionally the two coincide, but this was very definitely English Early Music, from the 15th to 17th century. The programme included some familiar pieces, such as Past 3 o’clock, God rest you, merry gentlemen, The Coventry Carol and an encore that was a storming rendition of Gaudete – who knew mediaeval music could be so funky? – and some lovely songs and tunes that were new to me, all with a Christmas or Wintery theme.

The five versatile musicians each play a number of instruments that also included harp, recorder, tabor pipe and bagpipes – nothing like Scottish pipes, but more like the Spanish gaita or Breton pipes. They were accompanied by the splendid Deborah Catterall on vocals and sometimes recorder.

The NCEM was packed and extra-atmospheric as they had lots of candles going, plus there were mince pies on offer along with the other refreshments. (I heroically resisted!)

The York Waits have been going since the 1970s, playing around the UK and abroad on period instruments, including at the Sheriff’s Riding, when the company the Sheriff of York around the city while he reads a proclamation at various locations allowing “whores, thieves, dice players and other unthrifty folk” into the city for the 12 days of Christmas.

As ever, the NCEM is wonderfully accessible, in fact there were two other wheelchair users there apart from myself. Word has obviously got around!

NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance

Around this time last year, we went to see Joglaresa at the NCEM. They were there again this year but on a day when we couldn’t go and, having seen them before, we thought we’d give this a go instead and I’m so glad we did!

 

Luxurious and accessible!

The Roost, Field House Farm Cottages, Bempton, East Yorks

The Roost is a lovely, one-story cottage  which sleeps four in two bedrooms with two bathrooms. It is one of six cottages at Field House Farm near Bempton in East Yorkshire.

The Roost, Field House Farm Cottages, Bempton, East Yorks
The Roost, Field House Farm Cottages, Bempton, East Yorks

The house is wheelchair accessible, although my power chair needed an extra shove to get it over the threshold of the front door, and although the internal doors are not wide, I was able to get around without any problem.

The Roost, Field House Farm Cottages, Bempton, East Yorks
The Roost, Field House Farm Cottages, Bempton, East Yorks

There is a double bedroom with an ensuite bathroom which has a shower over the bath and the other room can be configured as a twin or a king-size double and the ensuite bathroom is a wet room with space to manoeuvre a wheelchair.

The Roost, Field House Farm Cottages, Bempton, East Yorks
The Roost, Field House Farm Cottages, Bempton, East Yorks

The furnishings are all really good quality and it was very comfortable, although a little chilly as the weather was very cold and the cottage had not been booked for a while but we were able to turn the heating up and get the wood burning stove going so it was lovely and cosy the next day. This is virtually always the case with cottages so we did expect it but of course if you’re only staying a weekend it means it’s not so warm for more of your stay! There was plenty of wood and they told us we could help ourselves if we needed more.File_001

It’s a really well-equipped cottage and there was a welcome tray with tea, coffee, biscuits and a bottle of wine. The decor is lovely with original features from its former life as a farm building and there was an interesting history of farm in the cottage information folder.

The Roost, Field House Farm Cottages, Bempton, East Yorks
The Roost, Field House Farm Cottages, Bempton, East Yorks

The cottages also have impeccable green credentials, using a wind turbine and rainwater capture, encouraging recycling and using local products.

The friendly, helpful owners (who live on-site) have other cottages at nearby High Barn, where we had stayed last year and on both occasions we were really lucky with the weather, so as last time we had a very sunny visit to the promenade at Bridlington which is nice and smooth for wheel users with plenty of parking. The Blue Badge bays were all full but with this being off-season, there were loads of free spaces nearby.

The prom at Bridlington
The prom at Bridlington

All the cottages at Field House and High Barn are different, but if there is one that suits you, I thoroughly recommend them!

The Spinney, High Barn cottages
The Spinney, High Barn cottages

For further details of accessibility features, see my review on Euan’sGuide.

 

Moishe’s Bagel are always fabulous!

NCEM entrance

We had a lovely evening yesterday at the wonderful NCEM listening to Moishe’s Bagel and their superb mix of klezmer music with jazz and Latin influences – toe-tapping one moment, break-your-heart plaintive the next. They even played a really stomping rumba – I suspect they could play anything and it would sound terrific. The line-up includes piano, double bass, accordion, violin and percussion but sometimes mandolin and occasionally two accordions – a really rich sound which filled the place, especially in the tunes where they really gave it some welly!

NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance

The chat between songs was sometimes jolly sometimes touching and the atmosphere was great: the audience loved it and there was even some dancing!

I’ve reviewed the NCEM plenty of times so suffice to say: it is completely accessible, has an accessible loo and at least one Blue Badge parking space. The staff are helpful and for the first time, they had a couple of spaces (we were on the front row!) specially reserved for wheelchair-users which removed the small amount of hassle we had before where a member of staff struggled to disconnected a chair from the row to create space.

We’ve never seen a show here that was anything less than good, they are usually absolutely brilliant and this was no exception. Moishe’s Bagel have more dates coming up in the New Year. If you went to see them, I can’t imagine you would be disappointed.

Tea among the trees!

Sylva café, Oakwood, Leeds

Sylva café at Oakwood, Leeds is something of a statement building – a very striking design, but it looks at home nestled among the trees and close by the restored Oakwood Clock.

The clock used to be in Leeds Market, but was moved here in 1912 and after a campaign by local traders the restored clock was unveiled in 2015. The whole area was revamped, including flower beds and a community vegetable garden and a farmers’ market is held once a month.

The café is wheelchair accessible – there’s a bit of a steep little slope then a sharp bend to keep you on the plank slope up to the door, but nothing too bad. The staff were helpful – they had cleared away a chair so I could sit at the table and we had tea and rather good cake – all their cakes are gluten free and they all looked scrumptious. The tea could have been a bit stronger but I’m told the coffee was very good!

The carpark outside gets very busy – we felt lucky to get a space – there is at least one Blue Badge space and there is more parking at the nearby supermarket although that would mean negotiating a steepish slope.

The café was quite full and therefore quite noisy as there isn’t anything soft to absorb sound but in fine weather you could sit outside. You can see their menus on the website, sandwiches, salads etc and in the evening, the upstairs is a bar.

I would go again – it’s definitely a good addition to the area.

Accessible woodland trails

Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum is a great place to visit if you like woods and great views!

Amazing view at Queenswood Arboretum, Herefordhsire
Amazing view at Queenswood Arboretum, Herefordhsire

We came here after visiting Hampton Court Castle which has a lovely accessible walled garden but whose woodland trails required a bigger scooter than mine.

We picnicked in the car park surrounded by trees (parking is free with a Blue Badge) then moved to the main car park which has some designated Blue Badge spaces and set off into the woods with a basic map provided by the visitor centre. The trails are way-marked, including the route to the viewing point!

Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Herefordshire
Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Herefordshire

The paths were earth and occasionally a little muddy in places (as it had chucked it down the previous night, it was actually remarkably dry!) and generally bump-free. We made our way to the viewing point for yet another wonderful view of the Herefordshire countryside.

Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Herefordshire
Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Herefordshire

As it is an arboretum, many of the trees were labelled but we managed to identify a giant redwood even before reading the sign!

Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Herefordshire
Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Herefordshire

The visitor centre has locally made honey and preserves and some lovely cards and gifts and friendly staff. Accessible loo a little small but enough room for my scooter! Plenty of parking, including some Blue Badge spaces although it could possibly do with some more and I’m not surprised – it was a great place to visit not only for scooter-users: there were plenty of people with pushchairs as well. You can borrow an electric scooter for a suggested £5 donation if you book it in advance.

I thoroughly recommend this place if you fancy some fresh air, trees and a lovely view!

We visited while we were staying at Valley View, Thatch Close Cottages, Llangrove. Other accessible things to do nearby include Yat Rock and Hampton Court Castle, The Prospect, a modest park in Ross-on-Wye with yet more lovely views and the riverside paths down below – in fact the tourist office sent us a wheel-users route to get around Ross – it’s good to know more places are starting to think of these things.