Non-New Year resolutions

Distant views, Fairburn Ings

I’ve never been a fan of New Year resolutions. Partly, I think because it’s a bit depressing when you break them, partly too because I’m so in the habit of thinking of September as the New Year, not January.

If New Year resolutions are plans to do something new or better in January, doesn’t that rather encourage you not to make resolutions at other times? I tend to make plans at any time of the year to try new ideas or improve something I do already – perhaps inspired by something I have read or heard – and this could happen on any day throughout the entire year.

It might be something specific or something a bit more general. At the moment my general idea is to keep an eye out for things or ideas which will make life easier or less tiring for me. This usually leads to small tweaks rather than anything major, for example, as my arms get so tired these days, I’ve started using plastic picnic ‘glasses’ to drink from as they are lighter than a real glass.

Wall-mounted dispensers from simplehuman.com
Wall-mounted dispensers from simplehuman.com

Another recent innovation is wall-mounted dispensers for shower gel and shampoo from Simplehuman. They are easy to use and save me from faffing around getting shower gel or shampoo out of bottles. I used to use shower gel in containers that you hang by a hook but there aren’t that many of those around any more and the one I particularly liked, Pears, changed to an ordinary bottle. (I contacted them to ask why and they said it was to use less plastic and sent me two huge bottles of liquid soap!) In the past I have used a button-fastener which worked really well when I was a little more dexterous and I sometimes use a ‘grabber.’

Button fastener from Essential Aids
Button fastener from Essential Aids

At some point last year, we decided to make an effort to visit more local places that are accessible such as Burnby Hall Gardens or Fairburn Ings. This is a resolution we will definitely be continuing!

Distant views, Fairburn Ings
Distant views, Fairburn Ings

Another area of frequent resolutions is around what to eat. Several years ago, I went to see a nutritionist, Sally Duffin, as I felt perhaps my insides weren’t working as well as they might. She made all sorts of suggestions to try for three weeks and I definitely felt better for it. Inevitably, I didn’t adopt all her ideas or some that I tried fell by the wayside after a while but our diet definitely had a major overhaul and we now eat much less red meat, more fish and some meat-free meals. This feels quite zeitgeist-y as vegetarianism/veganism is having a bit of a moment right now for both health and environmental reasons so our diet-related resolution has an extra spin off.

The Rock Garden, Burnby Hall Gardens
The Rock Garden, Burnby Hall Gardens

At first, I wasn’t at all sure about what to cook as a vegetarian meal and tried Quorn mince instead of beef mince in chilli, for example, but decided that actually it didn’t taste that great and just including a larger amount of vegetables and pulses was nicer. We now make chilli with chicken or vegetables, bolognese with tuna instead of beef, vegetable ‘shepherd’s pie’ and moussaka and various vegetable curries and are trying to perfect home-made vegetarian sausages.

We often have cauliflower or carrot ‘rice’ and spiralised butternut squash or celeriac instead of pasta. I tried going completely carb-free for a few weeks, which sounds a bit bonkers given that I don’t have to for allergy reasons like some people, but I thought it might be a kick-start to perhaps losing some weight or at the very least make me think about portion sizes. It had no effect on my weight at all so I continued for a while longer and found that it did seem to have reduced the stiffness I often felt first thing in the morning. However, it did leave me somewhat lacking in energy so I reintroduced some carbs here and there and am now introducing a few more as I still seem to be very tired. I really hope it doesn’t increase my stiffness, but of course I don’t actually know if it was the carbs that caused that. Hopefully I’ll have the energy to do more exercise!

Clearly it is a case of experimenting and working out what works best. I wonder what other wheelchair users or people with MS have found? If anyone has a recommended gadget, diet-tweak or anything else to share then please do! Obviously, what works for one person may not work for another but it can be really useful when people share their own practical experiences.

Plenty of resolutions, then, but at all times of the year!

Do explore my website accessibilityreviews.org for more ideas. A lot of the places to visit that I have reviewed are near York, but if you look on the map and zoom in, there may be places near you or inspiration for somewhere to go on holiday!

Changing priorities

York Uni Christmas Day 2019

Looking back over my posts for the last couple of years, there was not as much of a change in our activities as I was expecting. Does that mean we’re still doing things or does it mean we’ve never done that much?

York Uni Christmas Day 2019
York Uni Christmas Day 2019

I think we probably do more in the way of gardens and outdoor spaces now and fewer restaurants as it’s tricky not to put on weight even when eating healthily if you can’t really exercise. Also, there are not that many local restaurants which are really easily accessible especially with the parking situation in central York.

Ambiente, Fossgate, York
Ambiente, Fossgate, York

Our last holiday was a lot less ambitious than previous ones where we would stay in three or four hotels on the way to and from a holiday cottage in France or Spain for example. I currently find staying in lots of different places on the same holiday too tiring.

Carpark, Les Saules, Baie de Somme
Carpark, Les Saules, Baie de Somme

I was pleased, though, to see that we are still managing to see live music fairly regularly. I think, also, that even if I was perfectly hale and hearty, we would be doing different things than, say, ten or fifteen years ago. More gardens than, for example, stately homes or museums as I really like looking at gardens these days, much more so than I used to. We’ve always liked visiting castles and we used to like city breaks in Europe but we have done plenty of that in the past and while of course I would like to do more it’s not breaking my heart. Except the thought of never again being able to just wander around Paris looking at things like the flower market on Ile de la Cité – that just gets to me every time.

When we did a few exotic holidays, such as going to India, I don’t remember at the time thinking that we had better do these now or we might not be able to later but that’s how it turned out and I am very glad that we did as it is lovely to look back on those holidays.

Our tastes have changed, partly, I suppose, to do with ageing, but also to do with accepting the inevitable. The important thing is to try not to make comparisons with what you used to do, which would change anyway, but to do what you can and what is enjoyable.

The Alnwick Garden
The Alnwick Garden

Reviews of accessible places to visit

Reviews of accessible places to stay

Reviews of accessible places to eat

Accessibility gets more accessible!

websitesI’ve recently discovered Wheelchair World, a website which has links to reviews of places all round the world which are accessible. They are by various bloggers – including myself! – and include places to go, things to do and places to stay. Definitely a useful collection – it’s always good to get the viewpoint of someone who has actually been there on wheels!

An ace(r) time to visit!

Thorp Perrow

Thorp Perrow
Thorp Perrow

Sorry for the awful pun, but now is a brilliant time to visit Thorp Perrow Arboretum near Bedale as the acers are a fabulous blaze of colour as well as many other trees which are also looking wonderful.

We hired a scooter (for £1), the ‘off-road’ type and they give you a map which shows the wheelchair accessible paths. I would imagine pushing someone round might be rather hard work as there are no smooth paths and in fact some were really bumpy, but most are either grass or fine gravel. It can get muddy so it’s best to after a dry spell.

Thorp Perrow
Thorp Perrow

We had forgotten it was half term and there were Hallowe’en things going on and the place was packed but there were also lots of people who were there to admire the trees – as you can see from the photos, it didn’t spoil the views. Even the ones in the carpark looked great!

Despite it being busy, we and the friends we were meeting managed to snaffle an outdoor table – it was just mild enough – and there was still plenty of choice of cakes!

Loos including spacious accessible ones are available at the café and the bird of prey centre.

Thorp Perrow
Thorp Perrow

The staff were really busy but were pleasant and helpful – as we left, someone came with us to bring the scooter back from the car.

 

 

 

We’ve always visited Thorp Perrow in spring before to see the bluebells but an Autumn visit is definitely worth it too.

Thorp Perrow
Thorp Perrow

New travel website

Limitlesstravel.org is a website dedicated to providing clear information websitesabout access, whether that is physical access or other issues such as hearing loops, use of sign-language or the family-friendliness of venues and attractions – all in London and fairly central as far as I could see but all the main ones are there, with user-reviews as well as general information.

For each attraction, you can see if wheelchair hire is available, if assistance dogs are allowed, if there is a hearing loop and various other details which would help you decide whether to visit or not. The hotels list if there is a shower seat, raisable beds, grab rails, emergency cord, adjoining room and lots of other details, which, again, make the difference as to whether or not you would give them your business.

You can search for a specific attraction or filter for different types of access or search on the map.

Looking at some of the press coverage on its own site, some refer to it as a guide to London, others as a guide to the world, so presumably they intend to expand as it does appear to only be London for now, unless I’m missing something, but it is definitely worth exploring this site if it’s London you’re heading for and need access information on hotels or attractions.

See my links page for other useful websites.

Fabulous view!

Sutton Bank

Sutton Bank
Sutton Bank

It was voted the best view in Britain – well, I’m always going to prefer the dales to anything else but the view from Sutton Bank is pretty darn good as views go!

We went first to the visitor centre expecting that they would have a leaflet with a map on it but instead a very helpful chap drew us a map and explained where to go. Odd that they didn’t have printed maps – maybe they had run out. The website gives you detailed access details.

There is ample parking and a café within the visitor centre and toilets out in the courtyard including a Radar-key operated accessible one which wasn’t the cleanest but was OK. First time I’ve used my Radar key – at least it confirms that it works!

Anyway, the paths are good – just had a bit of a steep camber in places so you need to keep to the middle but I suppose that’s to help them drain. There’s a circular route of about a kilometre which takes you to the (accessible) viewing point with a chart telling you what you are looking at – all the way to the dales! We stopped to have a picnic there – it was a gorgeous day if a little hazy – and it wasn’t particularly busy although no doubt it’s busier at weekends. You can go on a longer route which takes you to the White Horse – I’m sure we’ll be back to do that another day.

Rhododendron time!

Moorlands, York

A friend once told me that our family had a thing about making the most of rhododendron time and I must say I do seem to have a deep-rooted sense that you ought to get out there and see daffodils, bluebells, blossom,

Moorlands, York
Moorlands, York

rhododendrons, roses etc when they are looking their best!

So after not going there for years, we went to Moorlands to the north of York

to see the rhododendrons! It had rained a little that morning so there was the most glorious damp woodsy smell but the sun was now out and so were the birds – there must have been hundreds of them singing their heads off and we very clearly heard a cuckoo calling. There were plenty of rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom but also

Moorlands, York
Moorlands, York

plenty yet to flower so it would be worth visiting in the next couple of weeks.

It is managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and it is not large so makes a good short visit – there is a circular route which takes you past a couple of ponds as well as through the woods and for the able-bodied, there’s a bird hide up some steps. There are plenty of benches and carved posts showing you the wildlife to look out for (we spotted a couple of bunnies!) as well as information boards about the wildlife and the history of the place. The YWT also manage Askham Bog which we visited earlier in the year.

In very wet weather I can imagine Moorlands would be very muddy but despite the morning’s rain, when we went it was just damp albeit with a few easily-avoided puddles. The path is mainly just earth: a little uneven in places but nothing drastic, largely flat and with room for passing. The main obstacle is a kissing-gate at the entrance, but I was able to negotiate it on my scooter with a three-point turn. (OK, maybe slightly more than three!) Parking is by the roadside outside the gate – there is space for about a dozen cars and the road is quiet so it was all perfectly easy.

Entrance to Moorlands
Entrance to Moorlands

I definitely recommend this for a visit at any time but especially at this time of year – rhododendron time!

Spring is springing in Rowntree Park!

Rowntree Park, York

Rowntree Park, York
Rowntree Park, York

Rowntree Park is full of daffodils in bloom and plenty of trees which will soon be blossoming, others which are coming into leaf and there was a coot which looked very much like it was sitting on some eggs!

Rowntree Park dovecote
Rowntree Park dovecote

The park is recovering from the floods around Christmas time and is very muddy in places but the tarmac paths are perfectly accessible although there were a few puddles out on the paths by the Millennium Bridge.

The café is fully accessible, see the Euan’s Guide review.

This is a lovely park to visit at all times of year – see my review from the Autumn.

We’ll definitely be back to see if those chicks have hatched!

A visit to the bog!

Askham Bog

Askham Bog! It’s a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) nature reserve which we’d heard of but never visited until the other day. Some time ago I contacted the YWT to ask about how accessible Askham Bog is and got a helpful reply so we decided to visit and I’m sure we’ll go back to see what it’s like at different times of the year.

If ever you’ve come up the slip road off the A64 to Askham Bar / Tadcaster Road, you may have seem some cars parked on the left – that’s the carpark for Askham Bog. The first part of the path involves a gate and a slightly rough surface but once you are down the slope you are on wooden walkways with wire over them to improve grip and there are passing places and a few benches. I wouldn’t have wanted to try it with my Luggie scooter but my sturdier ‘Bootmaster Plus’ copes better with bumpier surfaces and was fine.

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Askham Bog

The Askham Bog page of the YWT website lists all sorts of flora and fauna you might see including water voles, roe deer and even Exmoor ponies! There are information boards to help you spot things. The path is circular and you are soon back to where you started – it’s not a big visit but for a quick run out for some fresh air, it’s very pleasant and although it’s near the A64 you aren’t too aware of the traffic.

When we went there was a chap from the YWT with membership information who was keen to tell us of other YWT sites which include Moorlands and Strensall Common – more details on the YWT website.

 

If you spotted the typo in my review of The Lime House, the title of this piece is quite appropriate! I corrected it on here of course but it lives forever on Tripadvisor!