Goslings!

Goslings, York University campus

We had a turn round the ‘old’ campus of York University to see the blossom and hoped we’d see some cute wildlife and found that we’d timed it just right to see some goslings at their cutest, before they get too big!

Goslings, York University campus
Goslings, York University campus

There were also ducklings and loads of other water fowl, plus trees coming into leaf, spring flowers and a general sense of everything bursting into life again.

York University campus
York University campus

We parked in the huge carpark off Heslington Lane where there are some Blue Badge spaces where the parking is free. The paths are generally very good – some have a bit of a camber; in places there are chicanes to slow down cyclists; occasionally a path is a bit rough, but there is always an alternative route. Many of the buildings have automatic doors and many have accessible loos in them – some bigger than others. There are often building works going on, but again, there are so many paths and different routes around the campus that you can always avoid them.

York University campus
York University campus

Timing is important – weekends and out of term time is best – then there is more the atmosphere of a public park than a university campus, what with anglers, and kids feeding the ducks.

York University campus
York University campus

Also, there are plenty of interesting things to look at as you go round – information boards, an intricately carved tree stump, sculptures and plenty of benches.

York University campus
York University campus

Definitely worth a visit, especially when there are ducklings, moorhen and coot chicks and goslings to spot!

York University campus
York University campus
York University campus
York University campus
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Beautiful, accessible flowerbeds!

The Homestead, York

The Homestead Park, York, is a 14 acre park belonging to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, in the grounds of what was the home of Joseph’s son Seebohm, which is now the headquarters of the JRF.

The Homestead, York
The Homestead, York

You can enter on foot from Waterend or from Shipton Road, where the carpark is, which includes several Blue Badge spaces. It’s gravelled, so my powerchair would not have coped with it, but we had taken my scooter, so, having parked in the bay nearest the gate, it was just a case of bumping over some concrete before the tarmac began. The paths in the park are largely tarmac with some crazy paving and flat except for a few sloping bits near the pond – easily avoidable if needed and there are a number of benches as you go round.

Formal beds, The Homestead
Formal beds, The Homestead

The whole place is beautifully kept – I expect it’s lovely all year round but this was certainly a good time to visit as there is lots of blossom as well as spring flowers, some in immaculate formal beds with wonderful colour combinations, others in less formal herbaceous beds and perhaps because of the previous day’s rain, there was a lovely woodsy smell.

The Homestead, York
The Homestead, York

There is also a medieval garden, constructed in honour of the 800th anniversary of York being granted a royal charter.

Medieval Garden, The Homestead
Medieval Garden, The Homestead

The pond, surrounded by acers and rhododendrons was a surprise – we must have missed it when we visited once, many years ago.

The pond, The Homestead
The pond, The Homestead

There is lots of play equipment for the under-12s, as well as plenty of grass to run around on, toilets, including accessible ones (they require a RADAR key – I contacted the JRT after our trip to check if this was the case and they said the park staff always have a spare one) and there was also a pop-up reading café in operation the day we went.

Blossom at The Homestead, York
Blossom at The Homestead, York

Noticeboards by each entrance have a plan of the layout of the park and leaflets about the park, the wildlife and the trees which you can also download from their website and there are signposts pointing out where things are. There is information about the park on DisabledGo, but as ever, it’s completely contradictory, including saying that there isn’t level access to the accessible loo! This is why sites with reviews are a much more reliable source of information – I shall submit a review to what is probably the most extensive one, Euan’sGuide, soon!

The Homestead, York
The Homestead, York

I can imagine us going back to The Homestead Park in summer to see how the formal beds have changed – it’s not a long visit (unless you sat in the sun for a while or spent a long time in the reading café!) but it was such a pleasure!

Another lovely York park is of course Rowntree Park with its pond, café, play equipment and ducks!

Can’t get enough kletzmer!

NCEM entrance

We knew She’ Koyokh were good having seen them before and having seen them again we still don’t know how to pronounce their name but I really recommend them! I can’t remember the line up from the previous occasion but it didn’t include Çiğdem Aslan the singer, although she did feature on the album we bought, Wild Goats and Unmarried Women in rather a lot of somewhat plaintive songs. She was in much jollier form at this concert and there was lots of jolly banter between band members and with the audience.

NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance

The music is fabulous and with four musicians, it filled out the NCEM which itself was pretty full – maybe their fame has gone before them or maybe it was because it wasn’t midweek like the last band we saw, Sklamberg and the Shepherds.

This was the second time visiting with my powerchair and again a member of staff removed a seat from the end of a row for us and I had a fabulous view and it’s so much comfier than their chairs!

As ever, it’s great to have this venue in York for the amazing variety of bands they book, its accessibility and the lovely atmosphere – the dancing ladies were there again and I’m sure everyone’s toes were tapping! We bought their latest CD First Dance on Second Avenue which is a good reflection of what this concert was like – joyous, celebratory stuff.

Canal Gardens in the sunshine!

Canal Gardens, Leeds

I hadn’t visited Canal Gardens for years so when we decided to have a trip to Roundhay Park, we took in the gardens too and they were looking splendid!

Canal Gardens, Leeds
Canal Gardens, Leeds

I took my own scooter this time as last time I found the ones you can borrow too high to get onto! My dad borrowed a park scooter and the instructions are that you head straight out of Canal Gardens – I suppose they consider them too big to manoeuvre in the more confined space – so we headed first for the Monet and Alhambra Gardens. Forgot to take photos, so one from Autumn will have to do!

Alhambra Garden, Roundhay Park
Alhambra Garden, Roundhay Park

These gardens are really accessible and while the Monet Garden looks best in Summer, there is always something of interest – the daffodils were pretty much over but there were hundreds of what I think were scilla under the trees – very pretty!
We then headed for the park ‘proper’ which is always good to see- what a great resource Leeds has in Roundhay Park!

Barran's Fountain, Roundhay Park
Barran’s Fountain, Roundhay Park

My scooter coped fine with the paths but I did notice a slight feeling of strain because the paths all have quite a camber – you are frequently leaning at an angle. I didn’t notice on previous occasions, presumably because of using their large scooters. Never mind, didn’t spoil the visit!

The Mansion, Roundhay Park
The Mansion, Roundhay Park

It was pretty chilly despite the sunshine, so we didn’t make a long visit and it was a good excuse to sample the tearooms in the gardens.

Roundhay Park, Leeds
Roundhay Park, Leeds

Dad returned his scooter but nobody queried mine as we entered the tearooms via the sliding windows on the terrace. It wasn’t busy despite some schools being on holiday and was quite civilised with pleasant staff. The cakes were all pre-packaged but weren’t bad, particularly the ’Yorkshire Rascals’ – presumably a cousin of Fat Rascals?!

Canal Gardens, Leeds
Canal Gardens, Leeds

After that we had a look at the gardens, which always look good. The walled garden area will look wonderful when the roses are out. The main part has planted beds and of course, the canal! There is also an intricately carved tree stump, depicting animals you’ll find in the gardens, including meerkats!

Canal Gardens, Leeds
Canal Gardens, Leeds

A few practicalities: there are accessible loos in the various cafés and the visitor centre, Blue Badge parking outside Tropical World and on Mansion Lane. We parked in the Tram Park as I find it easier to get in and out onto/from the road surface, as it were, than the pavement, although actually, the pavement is mostly very low in Mansion Lane. The council’s page for Roundhay Park has plenty of access information and the number to ring to book scooters, which are free.

The park also looks fabulous in Autumn!

Accessible wildlife!

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

We decided to visit Norfolk because I had seen a review of Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve, run by the Hawk and Owl trust, on Euan’sGuide,  so we booked some accessible accommodation nearby, which turned out to be far better than we thought – see my review of Norfolk Disabled-Friendly Cottages for more detail.

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

Off we went to Sculthorpe in the Saturday morning sunshine and we weren’t disappointed! It’s lovely to go somewhere that’s so accessible you don’t have to give it any more thought than anyone else would – this is how it should be.

The whole place is accessed by boardwalks with netting on for grip and all the hides are accessible too. The only non-boardwalk section is the lane you go down between the visitor centre and the reserve itself – but as the staff explained, you could drive down the lane and start on the boardwalk from there if you preferred.

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

As the lane wasn’t rough (just small pebbles), we parked by the visitor centre (the carpark is gravel but with hardstanding for the Blue Badge spaces) and scooted from there. The visitor centre, which is where you pay – a voluntary donation – and where the loos are, is of course, fully accessible and has a shop and plenty of information. There are two accessible loos – one inside and one outside.

The boardwalk at Sculthorpe Moor
The boardwalk at Sculthorpe Moor

We headed off after a member of staff had given us a map and explained how all the hides are accessible and mentioned a few things we might see – not just birds but potentially deer and water vole too!

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

It was very beautiful and quiet and we could hear birdsong as we scooted round – including up into the hides, some of which were high in the air but with gentle ramps to get in. We were rewarded by spotting some birds we’d never seen before, on a feeder just outside one of the hides and we also watched some water vole running in and out of their holes by the stream – just lovely!

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

The whole experience was great – the easy access, the pleasant, helpful staff and of course, the wildlife!

Great views, great access!

The patio

Norfolk Disabled-Friendly Cottages are just that – in Norfolk, adapted for disabled people and the owners are very friendly!

The Big Workshop
The Big Workshop

The website does not do the cottages or the view justice. We were expecting something a little bit twee and with some sort of view but what we got was pretty stylish and with a fabulous view. Admittedly, if we had been in the Stable Cottage which we had booked, we wouldn’t have had a view, but a phone call the day before we set out explained that the heating there wasn’t working so we had been ‘upgraded’ to The Big Workshop which meant we had a huge house all to ourselves, including a sitting room with French windows and large, low-silled windows to give  a panoramic view of the rolling countryside, including a windmill!

The panoramic view
The panoramic view

The cottages are especially designed for disabled people, with roll-in showers, grab-rails, low-level surfaces in the kitchen and wide doorways amongst other things, plus you can hire other equipment you may need, such as hoists, but it’s all perfectly comfortable for the able-bodied too. A lot of thought has gone into the design and the whole place is very attractive.

The view from The Big Workshop
The view from The Big Workshop

All the cottages have some outside space – patio or garden and they sleep from 3 people in the smallest to 10 in the largest; a couple of them are two-storey with a lift. Ours was open-plan and very spacious and although the kitchen area wasn’t that attractive it was very well-equipped and everything was in good condition – except the table was rather wobbly but as the owners are on site, they happily fetched us a different one and took ours away for mending!

The sitting room
The sitting room

The house was really warm: they are very well-insulated and the bio-mass system keeps you in hot water and heating. We even slept with the window open – which doesn’t tend to happen in March! – but it meant we heard the most fabulous dawn chorus and the calls of the oyster catchers and little owl (I think!). Much better than it being too cold – so often we’ve been on a short break and the first night has been freezing until the storage heating has kicked in and we’ve got the fire going.IMG_0559

We had planned to visit Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve, run by the Hawk and Owl trust, having seen a review of it on Euan’sGuide, so off we went in the Saturday morning sunshine and we weren’t disappointed! It’s lovely to go somewhere that’s so accessible you don’t have to give it any more thought than anyone else would – this is how it should be. The whole place is accessed by boardwalks with netting on for grip and all the hides are accessible too – we saw some birds very close up which we’ve never seen before, plus some water voles running in and out of their holes in the bank of the stream. For more detail, see my separate review of Sculthorpe.

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

Lavinia, who runs the cottages, had recommended Bircham Mill, the windmill we could see from the cottage, which was reopening that day for the start of the season, so we called in there for some bread and couldn’t resist a cake or two! They have a tearoom and gift shop as well which are accessible but I didn’t go in so can’t give details.

Bircham Mill
Bircham Mill

We also visited Hunstanton in brilliant sunshine on the Sunday morning. It has some attractive parts although the promenade is rather stark and concrete-y but it’s always good to get some fresh sea air! They seemed to be renovating some parts of the seafront area so it might be interesting to see it again some time.

The prom at Hunstanton
The prom at Hunstanton

Back at the cottage, we had asked if they could put out the garden furniture – it had been stored away for the winter – and we were able to sit outside enjoying the sunshine, the view and the birdsong. There was a slight hitch going out through the French windows – the anti-tip wheels on my powerchair caught on the threshold, so we used the front door instead and came around the side of the cottage.

The patio
The patio

Actually, the front door threshold was a bit of a jolt and there were a couple of other things which could be improved – a firmer mattress , for example, but those are very minor compared to the general good design of the cottages overall. I’m sure we’ll be back!

The Big Workshop
The Big Workshop