Access all areas – three generations in a rather lovely tent!

Something I really care about is accessibility. It’s one of the reasons I started my blog in the first place and the more I find out about accessible tourism, the more I care. My Mum had a stroke in the womb and, although she has tried to never let her disabilities stop her from doing anything, some of the things that most of us take for granted in day-to-day life are sometimes a struggle for her.

When Gin from MarGins Walking & Glamping asked if Mum might help out with testing their static glamping tent for accessibility at Deepdale Backpackers, I was really excited. My Mum, however, was a bit more hesitant. Her only camping experiences were in her youth and weren’t particularly good ones! Scratching below the surface a bit revealed some initial concerns: would she be sleeping on the floor? If not, how tall were the beds? Would she be able to push herself up? Would she be able to reach down to the zip to get out in the middle of the night if she needed the toilet? What were the tripping hazards? Would she be cold? What were the facilities like?

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With some coaxing she agreed, and we decided on a girls’ mini-break with my four-year-old. Upon seeing the tent when we arrived, her first word was “WOW” – she was surprised to find we had three ‘rooms’. A living room with everything you could possibly need: gas stove, electric cool box (full of local produce), plug sockets, every type of utensil, pot and pan, ground coffee and CAKE! Plus two bedrooms either side, with camp beds, comfy bedding, bedside table, bunting, fairy lights, blankies, a lamp and games, books, playing cards and guides.

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We really did have the loveliest little break. The weather was pretty dreadful but we discovered there was actually plenty to do – settling for the Sealife Centre in Hunstanton and then a walk along the coastal path at Holme when it dried out a bit. Despite the fab pubs nearby, we decided to pick up some food from the garage on the Deepdale site (amazing fresh tortellini and pesto!) and cooked it up on our little stove. Mum was still surprised at every turn (“Won’t we set the roof on fire if we cook in a tent?”). It wasn’t particularly warm outside but we dished up, threw some blankies over our knees and had an alfresco tea. We may have shared a cheeky bottle of wine too! The camp chairs Gin provided had sturdy arms so Mum could push herself up. We also found a little lion chair had been provided for Eloise.

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The shower and toilet blocks are amazing at Deepdale – surpassing all of our expectations. Lots of stainless steel sinks for washing up, spacious family wet rooms, automatic lighting… and really clean. Mum was worried about slipping on the floor but found it not at all slippery. The route to the block was on level ground too and is well lit up at night-time. Really accessible.

To say Mum’s concerns were all alleviated would be an understatement. She absolutely loved it. And from an accessibility point of view (despite some probing from me), she really had no problems. Gin provided a frame in case she had trouble getting up off the bed but she didn’t even need it in the end. We also found high viz tape between the rooms and at the tent exit but Mum had no trouble moving around. We found the zips had colourful cords so Mum could easily find and reach them. Solar powered fairy lights in the ‘living room’ meant we weren’t in pitch black and solar powered lanterns outside helped us find out way back to the tent.

On asking her about the experience and what surprised her the most, she said “I thought I’d be chilly but I wasn’t. And the bed was absolutely superb – I couldn’t believe how comfy I was.” It was a lovely thing to share with my Mum and daughter. We’ve been trying to provide some sort of constructive criticism, but we’re struggling!

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Every disability is different and everyone has different needs, but these seem to be two businesses that are really trying to think of everything to make their guests’ stay as easy, comfortable and enjoyable as possible. To anyone with accessibility issues and think this type of accommodation isn’t for them, I’d say to give either MarGins or Deepdale a call. If we hadn’t been asked to do this, I wonder if Mum would ever have stayed in a tent, but having realised she can have the camping experience in comfort and without any of the hassle, she’s already casually enquired about when we’ll be going again, ha!  From my perspective it also makes camping easy peasy with a small child. Love it.

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