Atypical Summer Holiday with Children

No, that’s not a typo, I really meant atypical:

atypical
eɪˈtɪpɪk(ə)l,aˈtɪpɪk(ə)l/
adjective
  1. not representative of a type, group, or class.

What exactly do I mean? Let me try to explain it.

For most families, the school holidays often go along the lines of planning a few days out, staying at home, sometimes going away on holiday for a weekend or a week or even a fortnight. If the weather is bad, or someone is unwell, or there has been a busy day previously, plans are juggled around or postponed to a more feasible day. Simple. Most things can be done this way, barring the actual holiday away, even if days out can’t be postponed in this time period there’s always another time – at the weekend, or later in the year.

Not so when your very ability to leave the house is dependent on facilities that are simply not present in most places.

We have friends who have this very issue. Adam is almost 11, he’s a full time wheelchair user and cannot stand, not even for a second to transfer. All he needs to be able to go out is an accessible toilet with a changing bench and a hoist. He can use the toilet, but needs a hoist to transfer to a bench, to sort clothes and change slings, and then hoist over to the toilet. Strangely the majority of “disabled” toilets can’t even accommodate his wheelchair, let alone his mum as well. They certainly don’t have a hoist and bench that he can use.

The toilets Adam, and many others, need are known as Changing Places or Space to Change toilets. There are companies that will assess and fit them into spaces, not as much space is needed as you might think. There are also mobile versions called Mobiloo that can be hired for events and so on.

Room in the Loo?

In Cornwall, where we live, very few places have a suitable toilet for Adam. So, a couple of local charities have arranged for a Mobiloo to come down a few times over the summer holidays. But a few times, on specific days, does not allow for bad weather, illness, or a busy few days.

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Last week we went to a local theme park on a day that was pouring with rain. We did not reschedule, because Adam couldn’t. This week Adam was excitedly awaiting a day out to the zoo. He’s unwell so can’t go. He’s upset because he knows that he can’t just go another day when he’s feeling better.

In addition to the unnecessary issues with days out, Adam and his family cannot simply go on holiday either. That too is fraught with issues, difficulties, extra expenses, and stress. There are not so many places with hoists fitted in the accommodation, and if there were, where would they go on days out anyway. In the past airlines have destroyed Adam’s wheelchair, his only means of getting around, what is he supposed to do then. Places like Disneyland are all to happy to invest huge sums of money into whole new sections of park, but are yet to install suitable toilet facilities.

It shouldn’t be like that. Toilets should be available PERMANENTLY at the majority of places. Them not being there is discrimination against those that require them. It would be deemed unacceptable for places not to have standard toilets – properly accessible toilets should be no different. And no, standard “disabled” toilets do not count.

What makes the situation even more shocking, is that the majority of places, when contacted, either brush it off, or ignore the request completely. A common excuse is: “our customers don’t need one”. That may be because the customers that do, can’t be YOUR customers.

Fun, inclusion and days out with friends should not be limited to specific days simply because your needs are slightly different from the majority. Particularly not in a county based on tourism, and particularly not when you are 10 years old.

Every holiday period, every day out, every trip to the supermarket, every day is atypical for Adam and his family. Really, every day should be as “normal” for him as it is for other children.

For more information on accessible toilets see the blog written by Adam’s mum: Ordinary Hopes

 

 

100 Ways to Home Educate: With The World!

Today I am taking part in a Home Education Blog Hop initiative, here is a little about what Home Education looks like for us.

Home Education for us: 

If I had to describe our style it would be Semi Structured dabblers in Worldschooling. This basically means when we’re ‘at home’ we follow a loose and flexible timetable with subjects and activities guided by E’s interests and future plans, but we also try to take lots of breaks around the world and country, of varying lengths of time, to discover and learn about different areas and cultures.

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We try to adventure, rather than holiday, doing things a little differently to a standard package holiday where we can. At the moment we are exploring the Southern Hemisphere (have a look at my recent blog posts for more information) but have also traveled by train to Italy, driven around France for a month (sleeping in the car as well as camping) and stayed with friends in Spain. In addition we try to get out and about in the UK including camping in Cardiff, a few days a year in London, Chester Zoo (which is an awfully long drive from Cornwall!) and more.

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What have we covered so far on our current adventure? So much it’s hard to know where to start, but I will try to summarise some of the points! We have learnt about time zones, body clocks and jet lag. We have experienced these first hand, as well as the opposite seasons in the other hemisphere. Currency conversion and cost estimation while out and about, as well as supply and demand affecting pricing – just why did our laundry cost so much to have done on the ship?! We’ve looked at native species, deadly species, cautions for them, and sun safety. We’ve seen a dam, learnt how and why it was built, and the strong relationships formed plus other benefits of those from different cultures coming together with different skills. We talked about evolution and natural selection, multiple times, and the risks of introducing species to an area. We’ve seen differing coastlines and mountains, a rain forest and icy cold waterfalls, learnt about sounds and fjords. There have been discussions about relationships between settlers and natives, what we think went well, what didn’t and why that might have been. We’ve all learnt lots about earthquakes, volcanoes and glaciers, which led onto a discussion over dinner about natural disasters and any ways we know to protect ourselves from them (duck and cover, seek higher ground, enter a basement etc). We’ve seen and talked about Maori traditions that still live on, learnt about the Haka and what it really is and means, beyond rugby!

I’m sure I’ve missed plenty, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come. To put it into perspective a little, we’ve been away for precisely three weeks. I feel we’ve covered far more in that time, in far more depth and breadth, than we could have at home, and we still have another week to go…

Some background to what we do, and why:

E came out of school at the end of year three, after a change of schools crushed his optimism and love of learning. He plans to do his GCSEs as an external candidate, studying the material from home. Maths and Science are his favourite subjects, and I have insisted he also sits the exams for English and studies the material for French (as he has been learning French for several years now). He also covers computing (including coding/programming) within his timetable. Then there’s the local Home Ed trips out and meetings to juggle.

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O is not Home Educated at the moment, although he has been in the past, currently he is studying at college for his A levels and he went to a small independent school to sit his GCSEs as he has Asperger’s Syndrome so mainstream school  was not able to meet his needs and he did not wish to sit exams as an external candidate. His school set up has meant we’ve had greater flexible for adventure than many families with one or more children in school.

Blog Hop:

Previous blogger:

The Start:
http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2017/02/06/100-ways-to-home-educate-launching-a-blog-hop/

 

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Dry Run With Friends

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A weekend of dry weather and friends wanting to wild camp in their converted camper locally meant we jumped in, with our nowhere near ready set up, for a single night test run.

It differed from the planned adventure in July in several ways:

  • Our car is far from ready
  • We are far from having everything we need
  • We have a foster dog at the moment, as well as our dog
  • The weather is nowhere near as warm as we hope it will be
  • It was only one night, and was very local
  • So we had a lot less gubbins than we will have – but that’s fine because the storage isn’t quite sorted yet

Despite these differences there was much value in doing it. It helped to spot things that were or were not needed as well as any pitfalls from what we already had – for example the carabiners for the bags were not big enough to go on the handles above the doors as planned.

The dogs loved the space, the training leads were ideal for hooking them up to the load D rings in the car (neither has great recall at the moment!). We took the foster dog (Gilda) in the car overnight, and our friends took our dog (Indy) in their van. Gilda slept fine in the bed on the front passenger seat, and Indy slept fine in the bed in the living area of the van.

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The beds fit in beautifully, and both of us found them comfortable and spacious.

There is lots of space under my bed for storage, and I have ordered a couple of Really Useful Boxes to slide underneath. One for kitchen bits and food, and one for dog bits and food.

There should also be enough space on top the the boxes to slide our camping chairs and the ‘bog in a bag’.

 

 

There is a fair bit of space in all the footwells, apart from the driver’s seat, and I have also ordered Really Useful Boxes for each of them – one each for mine and my son’s clothes and the third for ‘bits and pieces’ such as wipes, towels, bog refills etc. There will be space on top of these for other things too.

The cubby holes along the roof will be used for underwear, toothbrushes, toiletries and tablets etc. The door pockets will hold the curtains, sunshades and anything else not already housed.

All in all it was a resounding success, and very reassuring in terms of feasibility. We really had loads of storage space. We’re hoping the weather will be kind, and allow us another test run before our friends set off on the road early next month.

 

En Route to…

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This summer, I am ‘planning’ a road trip in France with youngest boy (biggest boy has asked to be excused, and will instead spend the time with his Grandad). I use the term ‘planning’ loosely, as, for the first time, this trip will not be minutely ordered with check points or an itinery. We know we will cross Plymouth to Roscoff, and we know we will spend just a couple of nights in each location, beyond that we will go where the wind, beauty and urge take us.

We are taking our family car, a Ford Galaxy, and a tent. The tent won’t be used for single night stops, we will just sleep in the car. The car has a glass roof (to see the stars) so there will be no roofbox, and also no trailer. We will have to pack light… Very light! We might also take the family dog, if she can get over her travel sickness before June!

I have pre ordered a new Outwell Polycotton Air Tent (for cool in the hot (!) sun, and ease of erecting/striking over and over on my own), and today we spent much time outside two camping shops trying out combinations of camp beds and Self Inflating Mats (SIMs) to see what the best configuration was that would fit in the car.  We eventually went for a Outwell Posidas single camp bed, with lots of space underneath for storing essential gubbins, and a double layer of 3cm Outwell SIMs for littlest boy.

It’s starting to become a little scary when I think about how little space we will have for gubbins. We have large door pockets, cubby holes all over the place, and a central bank of boxes in the roof of the car (with glass windows either side). There will also be the footwells, and under the Posidas. That is it. Everything we take will need to fit in that. EVERYTHING.

There’s a dog crate, if the dog comes, which will go on the front passenger seat when we’re sleeping in the car. The tent, which will have to go in a footwell, under the bed, or on the driver’s seat. Clothes/towels etc. Toiletries (I predict these will end up in the boxes in the roof). Road maps and campsite directories. Cooking stuff, including the Cobb BBQ which I will make space for, somewhere – I expect we’ll take a Really Useful Box, at least one, to store cooking equipment and food in, this can be left outside if needs be.

Once the tent arrives in mid March, I can have a go at cramming everything in, with the beds in situ. I don’t do packing light. Fitting everything in is going to be the biggest challenge for this trip!

Positive Intention of Cooking from Scratch

New Toy 011 (2)

So, at the turn of the new year, I expressed several positive intentions, one of which was to go back to cooking more from scratch. To help me along this journey, and give me the best chance of success, I subscribed to a cooking service. The one I chose was Gousto. I promised to report back on how I was finding it.

I am very impressed. Since starting we have had home cooked food most days, with take away just twice, and ‘easy food’ a small handful of times since starting.

Today I received my third box. We have so far sampled five different recipes, across two boxes. Here’s my review.

The box arrives at some point during the day selected. Everything is well wrapped, in appropriate measures. Insulation is provided by sheep’s wool, which seems to do an amazing job of keeping everything nice and cold; suggestions are provided to re-use the wool, I am saving mine to construct a cool box for the summer. In fact, most of the packaging is recyclable in some way.

 

All the ingredients are there, apart from the odd splash of oil or knob of butter, all fresh and many organic. There are clear recipe cards provided, with step by step instructions, and a letter listing your meals and the ‘best prepared by’ date.

So far we’ve tried five different meals, over two boxes, there is only one recipe we disliked. There has been the odd issue with a couple of things, but these have been dealt with quickly and appropriately by the company, who appear to have fantastic customer service.

It has really taken the hassle out of cooking from scratch, the ingredients are all there without planning, in the right amounts, all you have to do is assemble them. There is a wide range to choose from on the website each week, although as a fairly fussy family, there has been one week where it wasn’t possible to choose anything we would likely enjoy.

The whole meal is provided, so no sides to sort out. We have tried ingredients and types of food we normally wouldn’t eat, and enjoyed them! It’s like having another cook in the house, bringing their own tastes and flair to the table.

Tonight we have minute steak cheese melts… Yum!

To give Gousto a try go to: http://www.gousto.co.uk   To get up to £25 off your first box enter code: NEVIN99744