My name is Mari, I am 26 years old and have ataxia. I am a Media Ambassador for Ataxia UK and this is my first blog.
Due to Covid-19 my family decided to have a break in the UK. We looked for somewhere that was fully accessible for me as I am a full-time wheelchair user. We booked a week at Ellwood Cottages located in the heart of beautiful rural Dorset in the peaceful hamlet of Wooland. Ellwood Cottages are outstanding conversions of three traditionally built barns, in a courtyard setting. The cottages are named after Dorset writers: Hardy, Barnes and Blyton.
We spent a week at Hardy cottage and had a wonderful time. My granny came with us and stayed in the Old Stable, which is not wheelchair accessible but it can be used as a B&B or in addition to another cottage and used by family, friends or carers. Hardy Cottage sleeps three; it has two bedrooms, a cosy living room and a comprehensively equipped kitchen and wet room.
We arrived at Hardy Cottage and it was time to explore. My bedroom had a fully adjustable electric profiling bed, which was great as that is what I have at home. So whilst I was away I could maintain my independence. All the doors were wide enough to allow wheelchairs to fit through comfortably; it was easy to get around. The bathroom was spacious, had an accessible shower with a shower chair and the toilet had handles and a raised seat to make transfers easier. My bedroom had a door straight to the bathroom, which made access easier. The kitchen had lowered work surfaces so wheelchair users could cook if they wish to. Due to my ataxia this is not possible for me. The living room was spacious and transfers could be made onto the sofa which was very comfy. There was one other bedroom with a double bed and that’s where my parents stayed. Koos and Carolyn, the hosts, are happy to provide any equipment that you might need.
The grounds were also fully accessible with a lovely big garden with seats that you could sit in and take in the views. They had an indoor heated splash pool with wide steps and hand rails for easy access, and a pool hoist for the less able to use. They had a rota due to Covid-19 so that each day only one cottage used the pool. Inside the pool building are two fully accessible changing rooms. I really enjoyed my time in the pool and even got a chance to do some swimming or floating.
Being in the UK we did have a few very wet days but we also had some sunshine and enjoyed sitting in the accessible garden. There is also a recreation room with numerous books, musical instruments and games for all ages.
There were lots of venues nearby that were fully wheelchair accessible. A short drive away is Weymouth beach which has accessible ramps down onto the beach. If walking or wheeling is your thing then there are plenty of accessible routes nearby.
We visited two local pubs: The Fox Inn and The Antelope, both were accessible. Meals were extremely good value and the staff very pleasant. We enjoyed ‘burger night’, with very nice burgers at The Antelope.
Ellwood cottages was our first fully accessible holiday, having the cottage adapted for my needs was perfect. It meant that I could keep my independence, not have to worry about being able to get around, instead I could chill, relax and enjoy my time away.
If you are looking to your next getaway in the UK then I would highly recommend Ellwood cottages to anyone who has ataxia. Why not check out their website?