Wednesday 18 January 2017

A wonderful weekend, finding peace in the forest

There are a few times when I honestly feel at peace outside our own home.  When the world of worries disappears just enough to let me see the delights that surrounds us. When I'm not worried about or relying on my thick skin to push aside the way the world that so often feels like an ill fit for our family.  But on our last weekend away, I, we, found some peace.

My family and I went away for a special birthday celebration to Thorpe Forest. Despite knowing relatively little about where we were going, we had prepared our kids for the idea of staying in a cabin - ours was called a Golden Oak Cabin Treehouse.  But I had no idea it would turn out to be so ideal for our extended family stay. 

Here are some of the things I worry about when we go to stay somewhere:

  • My kids will escape and get lost
  • My kids will get hurt on the furniture
  • My children will accidentally break things that need replacing or worse can't be replaced
  • My kids won't be able to eat anything because I can't cook it or it's not available
  • I or other members of the family won't get any sleep because they aren't comfortable
  • There will be too many distractions for the kids
  • There will be nothing safe for them to do

Because the truth it that although it is OK for me to have padded bars over all the sharp edges in my living room, it's not very practical for many places.  Cheaper places have square edged veneer covered corners everywhere.  Many up market places have glass furniture. We've been in many places where the first thing we do is put a chair by the front door so we can hear if someone is thinking about escaping.  But it was all OK here.

The cabin had a large but completely enclosed outdoor space, with a separate fenced space for the large hot tub. The long bridge that led to a master bedroom 'treehouse' was enclosed.  The treehouse separate bedroom was ideal for the kids grandparents.  Giving them space to be with us and on their own.

In order to get to the front door you had to first go through the doored cloak room area.  Inside was furnished with soft or rounded edges and decoration was simple and essentially 'break free' for the most part.  The kitchen was properly equipped so I could make whatever the kids wanted to eat.  We could even get food from the onsite cafĂ© delivered to our cabin. 

The beds were comfortable and the bed rooms spacious.  The hot tub was only accessible with adult help.  There were things to do that didn't involve anyone else.  And the cabins are far enough apart that there was no worry about what others judging the loud jumping kids.  It was like staying in a cross between a self-catering cottage, a hotel and Neverland.

We spent three glorious days in the woods.    We went on a bike ride, everyday. We walked through the easy but wild forest paths everyday. We ate what we liked, everyday.  We used the hot tub as a warm play pool, everyday.  Jane had a great time playing pirates and we spotted different forest creatures including birds and squirrels on walks and from our own bridge.

And when we weren't full of the pleasures outside the treehouse cabin, we were able to do what was needed.  Anthony could stand and script on the bridge without worry or care. The boys were able to watch their regular programmes because we could watch Sky TV.  The Wifi was super and David had no problems playing on however many iPads he needed to.  We were able to play the WiiU when Anthony needed it's stimulation.


Not all the activities at the centre were easy for us.  We tried the mini forest rangers activities but Anthony found it too hard and got upset as we, and therefore he, didn't know exactly what was happening.  I also noted that not all of my SEND friends would be able to use the facilities. I contacted Forest Holidays after the break and am pleased to say I found their response promising.

I explained the difficulties we had in participating in some of the activities and made some recommendations. There is more information and photos on their website now to enable families with autism to know what they will do and who they will meet at the centres.  The last time I spoke to the company they were also in the process of installing more hoists in some of their cabins to enable more people to visit their sites.
The company took time to listen to our concerns and this gave me great hope that more changes will be made.  Our family had a great time at Thorpe Forest.  The kids were safe, happy and the family were having fun.  Everything was easy and I was at ease.  And that's a really good start.

Wonder what the Makaton sign for 'squirrel' is? 
Have a look at the #wetalkmakaton sign of the week.

We paid for our own stay at Forest Holidays. We were provided time on the Forest Ranger activity but were unable to access it and the company have been great in listening to our feedback.


  1. That's really good that you had a relatively stress free break and that they've taken on board your comments #SSAA

    1. It makes such a difference and get a break with the kids isn't easy! Thanks for commenting.

  2. Oh goodness I also worry my kids will get lost when we go away! The cabin looks amazing. How exciting for kids to explore the forest. #coolmumclub

  3. Oh wow!!! It looks amazing and sounds like you all had a wonderful time :)

  4. That place sounds amazing. And I totally feel your worried when taking kids anywhere - your mind always seems to head for the worst case scenario and doubles it?! Sounds like you had a fab time :) #ablogginggoodtime

  5. It sounds like a great place - glad you and your family had a good short break away together #ablogginggoodtime

  6. I have been dying to have a holiday in a forest for as long as I can remember, it looks like you had an amazing time I'm so happy for you hon. Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub xoxo

  7. That cabin really does look fantastic in a beautiful setting - it's somewhere I'd love to go with my kids! Sarah #ablogginggoodtime

  8. I think we all have those same worries going on holiday somewhere new, i know i do! Its good to hear that they listened to you though as a lot of places just shrug these things off!

  9. Apart from the a tivtirs you couldn't do it sounds like a lovely break. It does look very relaxing there

  10. It sounds perfect. I used to worry about edges and things when my son was younger, often these places that are supposed to be family friendly aren't, so it must be nice to find somewhere that fits the bill. It's good that they listened to the points you made about SEND children.

  11. Ooooooo Cabin the Woods! Keep thinking about that film...but this place looks fab! We'd love to stay in a forest, we once stayed in a treehouse and that was good fun! #DreamTeam x

  12. That's fantastic you had a peaceful time away - gorgeous pictures too! Thank you for linking up to #dreamteam x

  13. This place sounds amazing, I will have to look into it. We have a love for Center Parcs as it feels like an escape and it looks like it would feel the same here. I'm so glad you like it and your family got to enjoy a stress free break. It's great that they have listened to your feedback too. That's very positive.

    Thanks for linking up with Small Steps Amazing Achievements :0)

  14. This looks the our ideal holiday. Mine love roaming free in the forest and just watching them play is fun in itself

  15. So glad you shared this post. I have been looking at Forest Holidays for a while and wondered what they were like. So pleased that the company listened to your feedback #BestandWorst x

  16. This cabin looks amazing!

  17. 3 cheers for outdoor fun, the best kind of getaway for kids #bestandworst

  18. I love outdoor fun so this would definitely be a holiday we would all enjoy as a family. Thanks so much for linking up to #PlaydaysandRunways

  19. I have never heard of Thorpe Forest but it looks lovely. We like places where we can stay with extended family as we are trying to make memories for our children. My FIL has Parkinsons with Lewy Bodies and so we are losing him slowly. This would be a great place to visit as it would keep him secure too.

    I'm so pleased to hear that you found somewhere that you were mostly able to relax and hopefully in time they might be able to make the changes necessary for your family to participate in more activities too x

  20. What a great response from Forest Holidays. It's great when a company not only listens but you can see that they have taken note. It also sounds like you were able to relax a bit which is what it's all about. Thanks for sharing this with #MondayEscapes

  21. Oh wow what a stunning log cabin and what a fantastic place to spend a couple of days reconnecting with nature and as a family. Putting this on my bucket list of places to take the kids - thanks for sharing

    Laura x

  22. What a lovely review, I do hope you managed some relaxation!! Thanks for linking up to the #bestandworst please pop by again.

  23. This is such a lovely review! Staying away can be so stressful, I love that the garden was also enclosed (and the hot tub access controllable!) as both my kids thrive on being outside! Thank you so much for linking up with #AccessibilityStories


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