Decided to give Homestead Park a go with my power chair rather than my scooter. I had my email to the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust half written in my head, asking if they could make the crazy paving a bit smoother and found that they have done exactly that: the pathway near the pond that was a bit rough going is now tarmac like most of the rest of the paths – hooray!
I still emailed them, though, to enquire if the surface of
the car park could be improved as it is really bumpy and they promptly replied
to say that they are looking to improve it, so good news all round for those of
us who like a smooth ride when possible.
It was a lovely, sunny day so the park was being very well
used: the children’s play area seems really popular and there were plenty of
people admiring the gorgeous flower beds.
There always seem to be improvements on the go. During our
last visit, they were replacing the trees on the Cherry Walk and these were in
bloom and looking lovely. There was a guy in waders clearing the pond and
plenty of other staff generally tending the place, which is always immaculately
Great to know that they are committed to improvements in
accessibility as well as in horticulture!
It was rather chilly for outdoor exploring during our stay
in Norfolk but the views from the car were magnificent! The North Norfolk coast
is completely different to that of North Yorkshire, west of Sheringham it
flattens out and there are no cliffs or rocky coves but lots of shingle
beaches, sand dunes, marshes, wetlands and that huge, huge sky.
This was our second stay at Norfolk Disabled Friendly Cottages (now called Church Farm Barns), this time in The Little Workshop, a fully accessible cottage for four. Last time, we booked Stable Cottage but because of a problem with the heating, we were upgraded to The Big Workshop which had a lovely view so this time we booked the smaller next-door cottage in order to benefit from the same view which Stable Cottage doesn’t have.
All the cottages are accessible and of different sizes and
there is plenty of equipment such as hoists or a profiling bed which the owners
will hire out to you if required. The owners are really helpful and Lavinia
makes a point of coming to welcome you and check that everything is all right.
Despite the name, The Little Workshop is really spacious with plenty of room to move around. Not quite perfect, however, as it’s not possible to sit at the dining table in a wheelchair but, as in Normandy last summer, we raised the legs on top of books which makes the table rather high but at least you can sit at it. Another small gripe would be that all the pillows were really thick ones: I ended up using a thin cushion instead as I couldn’t possibly have slept with my head on such a high pillow! Also, the mattress could do with replacing when they update the cottage: it was a little bit like hammock-like! I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or a disability thing, probably a bit of both, but I find it increasingly difficult to cope with different domestic arrangements. Our house isn’t perfectly arranged, but at least I’m used to it and feel more confident there. Different furniture arrangements, positions of grab rails etc take a bit of getting used to. Sad, but true!
There was also an issue with getting out onto the patio as
the threshold was rather high and there was a bit of a dip where a drainage
grid had been put in which had maybe sunk a bit. We had found something similar
with the Big Workshop, but with that cottage, you can exit through the front
door and come around the side but this isn’t the case with the Little Workshop.
We mentioned this to Lavinia and somebody brought a bit of board which we could
put down to form a bridge between the rather high threshold, over the drainage
grid and onto the patio itself. We tried it the next day and despite some
overnight rain which had warped the board a bit, it worked a treat!
Another brilliant thing is that the cottages are really
cosy, so unlike many of the quaint, old cottages we’ve stayed in, although I
don’t see why they couldn’t be made to be as cosy as this as well!
We arrived on Friday and as I said, the weather was rather cold so on the Saturday we set out for a drive along the coast, heading first for Cromer then driving westwards past Sheringham then we came across the Cley Marshes Visitor Centre which looked like an accessible place so we decided to check it out. It strongly reminded us of The Sill, the National Landscape Discovery Centre that we visited this time last year in Cumbria as it was built in a similar style with plenty of wood and glass and a ‘living roof’ and designed to be sustainable and accessible.
We managed to resist the cakes in the café, but they did look rather good! It’s run by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and has a shop and café in the main building, accessed by a lift (one of those rather basic ones where you have to hold down the button as you go up or down) then there was a separate building with information about the work of the Trust and another building that was a hide with telescopes/binoculars that you could use although they were either too high or in front of the bench so accessing them from a wheelchair would have needed a bit of manoeuvring. There was also an exhibition in there by a local artist.
We continued on to Blakeney where we stopped for a pot of
fresh seafood. I don’t think I’ve done that for years so it felt rather
nostalgic! We continued on past Wells, past Burnham Overy Staithe and
Brancaster then slightly past the turnoff back to the cottage in order to check
Marsh Nature Reserve which we thought we might visit the next day.
The weather continued to be rather iffy but we fancied more
fresh air so the next day we did go to Titchwell. The staff were very helpful
and explained that most of the path was slightly better than the path between
the car park and the visitor centre which was indeed the case, not too bumpy and
some of the way round there were boardwalks but most of the way was a rather
rough path (failed to get a photo of the path, unfortunately). However, as it
was starting to rain we decided to call it a day which was just as well as it
started to chuck it down on our way home. Apparently, there are accessible
hides at Titchwell but we didn’t make it that far!
It is, of course, really frustrating not to be able to go
for a brisk walk and explore places like we used to but I can’t live my entire
life being irritated by that situation or it would be miserable, so I just have
to accept that we have to curtail what we do. Many of the visitors to Titchwell
were all geared up for bad weather but I think even if I was completely
able-bodied we wouldn’t have wanted to walk around in the rain anyway!
Nowadays, we usually choose accommodation with good views
and this cottage has them in spades: the windows are huge to take advantage of
them and it was fun spotting (and hearing!) the oystercatchers which live round
about. We also wanted to feel like we had had a relaxing time, especially as my
work is slightly stressful at the moment, so it was lovely to not check even ‘home’
emails but to read, do puzzles, listen to music, chat and just generally chill
The Monday when we left, the temperature was due to reach
As ever, different accessibility adaptations suit different
people, but if the facilities at Church Farm Barns suit you, then I thoroughly
recommend them as they are generally high-quality accommodation, even the ones
which haven’t been updated yet, and the staff are really welcoming. They have
improved their website as well which has information about accessible things to