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Monday 24 Sep 2018
Days Out PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sally Fletcher   
Saturday, 02 May 2009 14:19
Ben enjoys our family days out.  We prefer to visit places out of peak times, especially places where the children have the opportunity to handle animals.
When visiting somewhere  I usually enquire on arrival which things going on that day may be most suitable for Ben, I would recommend asking at reception or customer services as they usually have a bit more info than the person at the admissions counter.

There is disabled parking at or nearby all the places listed here.  Many places offer a discount for a disabled person and sometimes also one of the accompanying adults as a carer so it’s well worth asking although some are much more generous than others!

So here are our favourite days out and our review of them in no particular order:

The Dinosaur Park

The Dinosaur Park http://www.dinosauradventure.co.uk

We love the Dinosaur Park.  There are activities for all the children, Ben is able to enjoying hearing and handling the animals in the fun barn and enjoys the trampolines and large basket swings in the adventure play area as well as enjoying all the dinosaur sounds on the dinosaur trail.

The trail itself is a bit steep in places so care is needed if pushing a heavy wheelchair.

When Ben requires changing facilities the staff give us access to the first aid room which is well equipped for giving Ben a quick change.  Inspired by our fun here Ben now has a dinosaur themed bedroom.

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Banham Zoo http://www.banhamzoo.co.uk

We have had lots of fun at the zoo.  We find the information on feeding times helpful because the animals are often noisy when being fed and Ben enjoys this.

On one of our visits which was outside peak time the staff kindly allowed Ben to handle some of the Zoo’s creepy crawlies including a snake, giant snail  and some of their educational items such as horns and antlers.

We have also had enjoyable visits with School for Parents here thanks to the friendly staff.

The goats are very friendly and usually try to nibble Ben’s wheelchair!  The giraffe house has a lift so that we can follow the giraffe walk and get down again and Ben is able to smell the giraffes here (not unpleasant just smelly).

On previous visits we have changed Ben in our van but if need be I would ask to use the first aid room.

On Ben’s first visit here aged 18 months we had lots of fun sheltering from a rain shower in the farm barn whilst Ben mimicked the mooing of the cow outside, something he still finds funny today.



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Africa Alive

Africa Alive http://www.africa-alive.co.uk

Another enjoyable Zoo that again has a first aid room if needed.  Different to the animals at Banham this zoo has a viewing platform over the lion enclosure that is accessible by ramps as well as stairs so that Ben can join his brother and sister looking at the lions.

The plains of Africa enclosure with many animals in one huge enclosure is well worth seeing.

The restaurant is a bit small here in peak times so we often take our sandwiches to eat on one of the many benches around the zoo which also has some lovely countryside views and in the summer months an African dancing display with enjoyable music.

We try to avoid visiting the zoo on a Sunday morning when a busy car boot sale often leads to delays when trying to drive into the Zoo, not appreciated by 3 small children.




Wroxham Barns

Wroxham Barns http://www.wroxham-barns.co.uk

A lovely place to visit Ben enjoys meeting the animals here where at lots of times during the day the staff get the animals out to meet the visitors and in season it’s possible to bottle feed lambs and calves.

Some of the shops being located in old barns are too small for Ben to enter but it is possible to access the majority of the main shop through it’s side door which has a small ramp and the restaurant is accessible but does get busy, the staff have always been helpful in seating us and the food is good.

The children’s clothing shop that sells some unique children’s clothing and can put you in touch with their seamstress who can make children’s clothes to order.

Ben is able to sit with me and his siblings on the train in the children’s amusements area.  A nice family day out, shops with lots of lovely crafts.

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Aylsham Fun Barns

Aylsham Fun Barns http://www.aylshamfunbarns.co.uk

At Fun Barns Ben enjoys listening to the animals, when they have time the staff will kindly allow Ben to have a guinea pig or rabbit on his lap to stroke.

Indoors in the barn Ben enjoys a bounce on the bouncy castle and outside there is a large basket swing which Ben can fit in and enjoys.

The animals are friendly, even the pigs!

At busy times the food can be a bit slow but it is fresh and there are healthy options, even for the children which I find very welcome.

Sadly at least presently Aylsham Fun Barns is closed


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Norwich http://www.visitnorwich.co.uk

I think Norwich is a great city to live near.  There are disabled parking spaces in the main shopping Malls and these are especially welcome in the winter when I don’t want Ben to be out in the cold for long but at busy times it’s not possible to get to them if there’s a queue for the car park.

We often park at St Andrews carpark that has lots of disabled and family spaces and only at Christmas have I had difficulty getting in or else St Benedicts pay and display.

We often go into Norwich on a Sunday when it’s quieter and we don’t have to struggle to push the wheelchair and Sam’s buggy through the crowds.

We are generally made welcome in restaurants but one of my favourite things to do after some shopping is treat ourselves to some sandwiches and take them to Chapelfield Gardens or the top of Castle Mall where there are small park areas for the children and we can enjoy a sit on the grass.

In summer months there are often buskers and groups in the streets performing a variety of music for the children to see and last year we enjoyed listening to Bands in the Park and finding the elephants in the Go Elephant! event all combined with a bit of shopping for Mum and Dad.

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Pensthorpe http://www.pensthorpe.com

Pensthorpe has lots of birds, Ben enjoys hearing all the ducks quack as he crosses the bridge.

The gardens are beautiful with lots of bright colours and scents for Ben and the ponds are well designed for children to dip nets into and the right height for a person in a wheelchair.

Ben is able to enjoy the main walks around the gardens beyond which the ground gets a bit bumpy for him.

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The Beach

The Beach



In Norfolk we are surrounded by beaches many of which are accessible to wheelchairs but usually involve walking down steep slopes so plenty of muscles and shoes with grips are advisable.

At Cromer pier we can push Ben out onto the pier so that he can hear the sea, it’s enjoyable to sit here on a summer tea time with fish and chips from one of the many shops nearby.

My personal favourite seaside place to visit is Wells-next-the Sea which has beautiful beaches and pinewoods to walk through and a large park for the children in the town.





Norwich Castle Museum

Norwich Castle Museum http://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/default.asp?document=200.21#content

We had a brilliant visit in March 2009 to Castle Museum.  We went on a week day and on arriving at the museum I asked for advice on the best exhibits for Ben and his siblings to visit.

The staff were excellent and were very happy to find some artifacts for Ben to touch and gave him a fantastic short talk on the history of the castle whilst he touched the items, I was very impressed with the way the staff talked to Ben, he was even able to try on a glove and helmet from a suit of armour.

All the children enjoyed making finger puppets at the colouring table and Harriet enjoyed sitting on a throne whilst Sam was fascinated by the large model castle.

A really enjoyable outing where all the children were able to take part.





Inspire http://inspirediscoverycentre.com

When we visited the inspire centre the children were aged 6, 4 and 1.

Ben was able to see the light display and was happy to be out with his family but there was wasn’t much else he could do here.  The building was accessible and the staff were friendly.

I think we would go for another visit when Harriet and Sam are a bit older so could better learn from the interesting displays.

Blickling Hall

Blickling Hall http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-blicklinghallgardenandpark

We like the countryside so love walking at Blickling Hall which is only a short drive from us. There are lots of free things to do without needing to pay to go into the Hall or gardens.

There are well marked walks to take the children on, it can be a bit bumpy in places such as where cattle have walked leaving lots of ruts so this year we are looking forward to taking Ben in his new mountain buggy with it’s big wheels.

In the autumn there are usually loads of chestnuts on the trees and if you take one of the walks into the woodland you come across a clearing with a pyramid in it as big as a house which really is an old memorial. We recommend this walk on the red trail as it's less bumpy than the lakeside walk.

As well as several benches along the walks there a couple of free picnic areas one on either side of the Hall, there’s a good pub with a beer garden which serves good food and a farm shop again with really good food.

There is a national trust restaurant and in summer a food stall outside selling things such as national trust sandwiches which are rather expensive but very nice as well as cakes and ice cream.

There’s a garden centre, garden shop and gift shop and adventure play area.  I find this a really peaceful place to be and relax with the family.





The Worstead Festival

The Worstead Festival http://www.worsteadfestival.org

This has become a yearly trip for us and is usually on in the last weekend of July.

There’s loads to see every year spread out all around the village with a large display ring of events, tractor rides, heavy horse ploughing competition, lots of music, fairground, craft stalls and food.

It’s a bit of a step back in time traditional village show.

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County & Game Fair

East Anglian Country & Game Fair http://www.ukgamefair.co.uk

Another yearly event for us it is held in late April at the Royal Norfolk Showground.

In 2009 it cost £12 per adult to get in so not cheap but there is so much to see you could easily spend a whole day here, a good day out for people who like animals.



Castleacre        http://www.castleacre.net

We like to visit the Norfolk village of Castleacre where it's free to walk around the castle ruins and you can pay to enter the National Trust cared for priory ruins, a beautiful village with quaint village shops and tearooms.

Ben's great grandfather lived here as a boy.

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The Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal http://www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

We try to go to the theatre a couple of times a year as a treat.  We have always found the staff really helpful when taking Ben.  Sometimes Ben’s wheelchair is mistaken for a pushchair due to its shape but I only have to say  "it’s a wheelchair".

Due to his visual impairment we used to sit in the front row with Ben tucked beside me in my seat (whilst still booking him a seat to put all his bags on that I needed to hand) to give him the best chance of seeing but since he has gotten taller we now sit in one of the wheelchair rows.

There are discounts for disabled people and a carer.  Ben enjoys the atmosphere of the theatre, the only gripe I have is that when sitting in the wheelchair row a generous space is left for you to park your wheelchair in so the people in the row sitting behind you tend to then want to use your space to get in and out of their seats pushing past you and stepping over your belongings instead of walking to the end of their row to get out as they should.

The Cinema

The Cinema http://www.myvue.com

We have only once taken Ben to the cinema which was in Castle Mall Norwich.  The staff  were helpful and we were seated in the back row where there was space for Ben to be wheeled up next to our seats, as usual he joined me on my lap for a cuddle after a while.

We saw Charlotte’s Web and despite being visually impaired Ben enjoyed the experience of the cinema.  Unfortunately he enjoyed it so much that he became very vocal and I regrettably had to try and shush him so as not to disturb the other people trying to watch the film.

Amazona Zoo

Amazona Zoo (Cromer Zoo) http://www.amazonazoo.co.uk

We’ve been to Cromer Zoo once so far and enjoyed it.  The swamp house was my favourite part, accessible for Ben in his chair with lots of plants around for him to touch really making you feel like you were in the jungle.

The cafe had a nice deck we sat on overlooking the pond so Ben could hear the birds and there was plenty of room for us at the tables.

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Thrigby Hall

Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens http://www.thrigby.plus.com/home.htm

I remember visiting Thrigby Hall since I was a child myself (not it’s not ancient!).

It’s possible to push Ben up the walkway to see the tigers and another walkway to see the monkeys.

There are several picnic benches for parking all our wheels and bags.  The swamp house is hot giving Ben an atmosphere to experience.


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The Park

The Park, Sandy Lane, Taverham, Norwich

At this public park in the village of Taverham near Norwich as well as a good selection of children’s play equipment they have a large basket swing, meaning that Ben can enjoy a swing at the park like his brother and sister and it’s free.

Oxborough Hall

Oxborough Hall http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-oxburghhall

Each year Oxborough Hall has a special open day on Father’s Day and Adrian takes part with Norfolk Model Flying Club.

There are flying displays, boats on the moat of the house, model trains and a large model train and tractions engines that give rides as well as the National Trust cafe and gift shop.

The beautiful grounds are an enjoyable place to walk or sit and I usually take loads of photos of the children here.

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Seething Airfield

Seething Airfield http://www.seething-airfield.com

In 2007 we were pleased to be invited to the Starlight Foundation’s special open day at Seething Airfield and had a really special day out.

The airfield has a charity open day each year usually in September and we look forward to seeing them again in the future.

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Ben's on board!


The Snails Joyland

The Snails, Joyland Gt Yarmouth http://www.joyland.org.uk

In June 2008 we went to Joyland in Gt Yarmouth, when I was young I just loved going on the snails ride so I wanted to take my children.

Ben was 5 so I was able to sit him on my lap on the ride to hold him tight over the bumps this was suitable for him because he likes bumps and surprises and I had prepared him for what was coming.

We had great fun and ended up riding the snails 3 times, we also had a go on the under the ocean ride.

The staff had no objections to us going on the rides and Ben was allowed to ride free of charge.  This is not something I will be able to do with him when he gets too big to hold but it was good fun and something to remember that we have done together.


Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo  http://www.colchester-zoo.com

In May 2009 we visited Colchester Zoo.  It was quite a long drive for us so we booked some early morning care to help us get on the road.

We had a really good time seeing the large variety of animals, the zoo is quite hilly so some routes were not recommended for wheelchairs.

We particularly enjoyed seeing the dragons, wolves and white tiger that we had not seen anywhere before.

The staff in the restaurant were happy to warm Ben’s milk and there was a first aid room available for him to get changed in but we did not need to use it.

Ben had been invited to take part in the zoo’s “dream night” an event held one evening each year for children associated with East Anglian Children’s Hospices.  I had written to the zoo and explained about Ben’s evening medications making him too tired to take part in an evening event but asked if we could visit at another time.

The zoo arranged for us to visit on a Monday when Ben and his siblings were able to feed an elephant which was a great experience for us all.  The zoo were really very helpful and we would recommend a visit.

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Sandringham     http://www.sandringhamestate.co.uk

We visited Sandringham in May 2009.  We had a really lovely time walking around the huge gardens and museum.

There are lots of different species of really mature trees, the paths were accessible for Ben and Sam and Harriet enjoyed running under the trees.  Really picturesque and beautiful.



World horse Welfare

World Horse Welfare http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/

In April 2006 we had a great day out at the ILPH near Snetterton.  The children got to meet the horses and mix their food, with lots of opportunities for Ben to smell and touch things.

The highlight was when a minature pony was brought into the reception area to meet us and Ben was able to feel the shape of a real live pony.

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Horsey Windpump

Horsey Windpump   www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-horseywindpump

On 31st July 2010 Adrian and I went for a walk via Horsey Windpump.  I was pleased to find a car park with several disabled spaces and a disabled toilet.  There was a shop/cafe and also a sitting area with raised flower beds labled as a sensory garden.  The main footpath we had hoped to take was closed and I don't think I could have gotten far in the area with Ben on wheels due to there being styles and no gates on the footpath. However it would have been possible to drive on and park nearer Horsey Gap (the beach) and walk Ben onto the beach from there.  It's a really beautiful spot and we did manage to see a couple of seals.

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 August 2010 13:42