Disclosure: I was not asked to write this, nor did I get paid or get in for free: I just had good day out with my disabled daughter and wanted to blog about it.
Through suburban gates we crawled, past serried ranks of parked cars and a queue of restless parents and children snaking along the footpath to the entrance. A cool urban event it was not. It’s also not cheap for a family to visit, but since carers go free, I paid less to get in than I did for the coffee and cakes that were needed before we went exploring. It was also the longest time I have ever queued for coffee… In saying that, everyone was good natured, the sun was shining, the surroundings were lovely, and for once I did not feel like scratching my own eyes out (I don’t do queues as a rule, especially when they take 30 minutes).
This was our introduction to Airfield Estate and Farm, a 35 acre working farm within the city limits with lots of family friendly activities and events. And in all fairness, I got the impression that Airfield was caught out by the unexpectedly good weather as I watched harried staff scurrying in all direction with trays of bottled water and snacks as the day wore on.
Because the weather was fabulous. Soon after we arrived, the clouds vanished and it was sunshine and blue sky for the rest of the day. Too nice to explore the house and its history, so I can’t tell you if it’s wheelchair accessible. It looks pretty though.
But almost everywhere was accessible: all the paths we tried are fine, mostly smooth surfaces and gentle inclines. I only spotted one set of the steps and it was easy to avoid.
There’s a wonderful woodland playground; no wheelchair swings or anything like that, but it was fun to explore and smell the wildflowers, and watch and listen to the hordes of happy children.
“This is way more fun than walking!” (don’t ask)
“I’m the spider, and this is the web I’m making.” (climbing net)
Not an iPad in sight…
The most attractive viewpoint was the children’s hill fort and I made a valiant attempt to push the chair up the narrow path to the top, much to the astonishment of watching families, It didn’t go so well, and I had to make a red faced retreat before we caused a major human traffic jam.
Our visit to the farmyard area did not go so well either: the doors to the stalls were too high for my daughter to see any of the animals, and two visits to the Green Barn did not result in us finding the advertised céilí. And I’d say you know how much my daughter loves music unless you’ve stumbled across this post by accident!
But she didn’t realise what she was missing as she enjoyed the busyness and buzzy atmosphere, while I enjoyed the scenery and fresh air and sunshine.
Obviously we checked out one of the toilets too: it had a doorway too narrow for some wheelchairs, but was reasonably spacious inside and I could’ve helped B use the toilet if necessary, though without a hoist I would’ve risked damaging my back. Hopefully one day Airfield would consider installing a proper changing place toilet so that families like mine can stay longer.
Would I go again? Definitely and if you’re visiting for the first time these would be my recommendations
1. Get there very early on a sunny or bank holiday weekend.
2. Start by following the path around the edge of the estate, it’s gorgeous and a great way to get your bearings.
3. Bring your own picnic. And maybe a flask of coffee too…