Great access, and great staff. Food, not so much!

Bill's York

I generally like to support independent restaurants, so we were going to go to Mamma Mia’s but the slight step at the doorway looked like it might be a bit of an effort for my powerchair, plus, you have to pull up on the pavement outside, which isn’t ideal. We decided we’d give Bill’s a go instead as we’d had a couple of recommendations.

Bill's York
Bill’s York

Pete did a reccy beforehand and the staff were very helpful, showed him the accessible loo, (very spacious, plenty of grabrails) and told him it would be no problem to pop the chair somewhere out the way while we ate – they even said they had recharged someone’s chair recently!

Pulling up outside is no problem then you could leave your car there if you have a blue badge as it’s OK to park on yellow lines if you aren’t blocking anything, otherwise, you could do what we did and park on Lendal.

There are some booths but most of the tables are movable (some are up a step but plenty are level access – and properly level it is too – no bumpy threshold!) with good solid tables and easily moved chairs. They suggested we left the chair by the main door, so we disconnected the power – it was races weekend, didn’t want to take any chances! The décor is funky, the piped music quite loud, and as I said, the staff are great – really helpful with chairs and so on. I don’t know if they have had training but they were very aware of accessibility issues.

The food is OK but not brilliant – we had a meze between us all as a starter then four different mains and some puds so a reasonable range and while there was nothing wrong with any of it, you would expect better for the price. We’ve paid those prices in many a gastropub, for example, and got a much better meal. They did a very good decaff to finish up with – actually they brought it before the desserts – perhaps we should have specified but you would kind of expect it to come after or at least at the same time!

I had seen a comment on tripadvisor saying that the optional 10% service charge did not go to the staff, so we thought we might leave it separately but when we asked the waitress who had looked after us, she said the tips were divided between the staff.

In all, I’m glad we tried Bill’s and may go again but will continue to check out other accessible restaurants. As ever, the overall impression you get is a mixture of various aspects – the food is just one of them – and the overall impression was good.

Check out our other reviews of accessible restaurants.

 

Venturing across the river!

Near the river at Fulford

For a change, we explored the Fulford side of the Millenium Bridge. The grass is left long to encourage wildflowers, so it had really quite a rural look.

Near the river at Fulford
Near the river at Fulford

The mown paths would be passable on a really sturdy scooter, but we stuck to the tarmac cycle/footpaths.

Cycle paths by the Millennium Bridge
Cycle paths by the Millennium Bridge

I had always thought of the grassy area by the bridge as being Fulford Ings, but according to Google Maps, they are actually further along. The path becomes a bit rough by then, so, having passed the grassy area by way of the cycle/footpath, then Love Lane amongst the trees, we turned around at St Oswald’s church – it’s a private house, complete with gravestones in the garden! The Ings were the site of the Battle of Fulford, precursor to the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.

River bank by the Millennium Bridge
River bank by the Millennium Bridge

Everywhere smelled gorgeously woodsy, so it made for a pleasant saunter, then we headed on past the bridge once more and along New Walk.

Towards Blue Bridge from New Walk
Towards Blue Bridge from New Walk

We hadn’t been this way for ages and having once been very familiar with it from living nearby some years ago was an added interest plus there are a few things to look out for, like the railtracks, a relic from the area’s more industrial past and Pikeing Well, once a fresh water fountain – the history of it is on an information plaque nearby.

New Walk
New Walk

There are plenty of benches along both sides of the river and platforms built out into the river so you can get a good view. There is even an ice-cream boat!

Boats on the river
Boats on the river

You could carry on along the bank, over Blue Bridge and into town but we headed back over the Millenium Bridge to good old Rowntree Park and –yes! – there were some ducklings as well as goslings, not to mention plenty of people enjoying the sunshine and the roses!

Rowntree Park
Rowntree Park
Ducklings in Rowntree Park
Ducklings in Rowntree Park

Lush greenery!

Island in the lake, Rowntree Park
Island in the lake, Rowntree Park
Island in the lake, Rowntree Park

The wonderfully accessible Rowntree Park and the nearby riverside are looking lush and green with the trees, hedges, herbaceous plants and cow-parsley all bursting with life!

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Millennium Bridge, York

Carpets of daisies as well – rather too many in fact – must be all the fertiliser they get, courtesy of the geese!

Canada geese, Rowntree Park
Canada geese, Rowntree Park
Goslings and daisies, Rowntree Park
Goslings and daisies, Rowntree Park

No ducklings or moorhen or coot chicks, but some cute goslings.

The arbour, Rowntree Park
The arbour, Rowntree Park

Other York green spaces includes the university campus and Homestead Park.

Formal beds, The Homestead
Formal beds, The Homestead
York University campus
York University campus

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

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!