To go on an outing with Heni, there are a multitude of factors that all have to intersect at the same time...
...a few of them being ...
...she has to be healthy and feeling well.... the weather has to be reasonable... we have to have a free day... we have to have the energy and motivation to get everyone organised... AND we need to have somewhere accessible to go that will be of interest.
I've been feeling for Heni recently as she hasn't been out the house to visit many places. As we approached the end of half term she was so tired that it was unwise to do very much... then she had the week off college and was stuck in the house while it rained, poured and spewed the heavens out the whole week....not much fun!
This last weekend however, we got a decent day, Heni was in good spirits and a friend of ours had told us about the Stockwood Discovery Centre which sounded quite interesting.
The centre was only about 20 minutes away from where we live so we thought we would go for a drive and check it out for the morning before returning home for her afternoon nap time.
Stockwood Discovery Centre has many parts to it and unfortunately we didn't get to see all of it due to time (or lack of it), however we did manage to wander around the lovely gardens, some of which were once part of the original Stockwood House. Heni loves to look at foliage and the shapes and shadows that they create and especially liked the bamboo tunnel that we pushed her through. Fortunately the centre is very accessible and all the main pathways are wheelchair and pushchair friendly... even the buildings and the cafe had a level access.
We went in the Period Gardens, which included the Elizabethan Knot Garden and the Dig for Victory Garden....each one so totally different and we got to see the changing styles of gardens and gardening in England.
We also explored the newer areas including a contemplative Sensory Garden that Heni really enjoyed. We pushed her through the sensory trail where flowers spewed out over the path and touched her as we brushed by them in her wheelchair ...it gave her the opportunity to touch the foliage and smell the scents of the plants...some of which she liked and others she didn't!
We walked the sound trail ....
.... where she enjoyed feeling the vibrations of the chimes as we struck them with the metal rod...
...and enjoyed listening to the rain maker as Dad spun it around and around...
We even got to talk to each other through the flower speakers...
There were a number of buildings to look around which housed a variety of displays and collections, including; geology, archaeology, social history and rural crafts. I think the kids (being kids) loved the tractor and the chariot the most.
Some of the displays tell the stories of real people behind the collections and also explores the history of the region from prehistoric times to the evolution of Stockwood House and the Farley estate.
By the time we had wondered around the gardens and a few of the buildings, Heni was getting really tired and so we decided to save the rest for another trip in the summer holidays. There is still the Mossman carriage collection to look around (largest private collection of horse-drawn vehicles in the United Kingdom)... and The Improvement Garden which is a classical garden where sculptures by Ian Hamilton Finlay can be see on permanent display. If they are as impressive as the sculptures at The Sculpture Park we visited recently we will be in for a treat.
In total we probably only spent a few hours meandering around the gardens and wandering around some of the buildings but it was a pleasant way to while away some time, get Heni out of the house and go on a bit of an adventure exploring somewhere new.
Sometimes when you get in a flunk it's just easier to stay at home... but we were glad in the end that we made the effort to go out and that there was something that each person enjoyed. I think Heni appreciated her outing spending some time doing some fun things and she was so tired that she fell fast asleep speedily as soon as we returned home again...
As the summer holidays are approaching (at least here in England!) there is often a sense of dread associated with all that time off from school. Keeping a nice balance of everyone having something fun to do is often tricky. I can usually think of lots of places to take Daughter Number Two and The Hungry Boy but it is often harder to organizing respite and find places that Heni can go and activities that will keep her entertained. I now know that there is at least one place that I can add on to Heni's list of "summer things to do".
Do you have a list of places and things you like to do with your special needs children?
I would love to hear what things you do to keep them happy... why not stop by Henibean's Facebook page... or leave a message for me below.
Until next week
To see more pictures of the Stockwood discovery centre you can visit Trip advisor and see more of what is on offer.... oh and by the way it's free entrance!