Making Your Garden Mobility Friendly

Today’s blog post comes from Tony Ward, a company which sells quality gardening furniture. This excellent post provides handy tips and advice on how to enjoy a mobility friendly garden, which is accessible to everyone. Thank you to everyone at Tony Ward for this great contribution, you can view the original post on their blog page here!

Gardening is a rewarding activity, which can be beneficial to the mind and body, having mobility problems may make gardening seem like a challenge. Whether you have trouble kneeling, achy joints or use a wheelchair, gardening is still a hobby that you can enjoy. There are many ways in which you can adapt your garden to make it accessible to everyone. 

When gardening it is important that you choose tools that suit you and your needs. There are a variety of tools designed to make gardening a little easier. Here are some elements to look out for when selecting tools.

  • Lightweight – For comfort and to relieve the strain on joints and muscles.
  • Extended handles – To prevent you from over stretching.
  • Tools with arm supports – Providing extra support to joints.
  • Padded grips – For a comfier and more secure grip.
  • Containers with wheels — these help you to transport plants and tools around the garden.
Now that you have the correct tools, time to take a look at your garden to see how it can be improved to make things easier for you.When gardening you need to be able to move around with ease. Adding walk ways for wheelchairs or hand rails can give you a safe and supportive route around your garden.
Make sure any paths are level to avoid any falls. You can also add seating around the garden to enable you to take regular breaks and admire your work. It is also a good idea to do a small warm up by stretching before you start any work.

Mowing your garden is a large task for anyone with mobility difficulties. If you want to cut your own grass make sure that you take regular breaks. If cutting the grass is something you feel you cannot do, hire a professional or consider replacing the grass with paving so it is easier to maintain.
One major thing that can be a struggle to those with mobility problems is tending to flower beds. All the bending and kneeling can take its toll on your joints. One solution is to build or buy a raised flowerbed, these are available in many different heights to reduce the need for bending down. Why not add in some seating next to your flowerbed so that you can water your plants in comfort. Investing in a hose with a sprinkler nozzle is ideal for watering your plants without having to lift a heavy watering can.
When choosing flowers and plants look for low maintenance varieties, this information should be on the label if not ask for advice. Choosing plants that need less looking after will save you hours of pruning in the garden. Below are a few of our low maintenance favourites.

 All photos courtesy of Tony Ward.

Tips for an Exciting August Bank Holiday

Sun hat, sunglasses, camera and fruity drink with the title “Tips for an exciting bank holiday”

August Bank Holiday weekend is the ultimate summer holiday experience, with plenty of fun and exciting events taking place. From a relaxing weekend break to an activity-packed couple of days, there’s something happening for everyone to enjoy. Take a peek at our best recommendations below…

Head to the beach

Sand dunes with long grass and people sitting on the sand by the sea.

Weather permitting, of course, the standard thing to do on a Bank Holiday weekend is to go and enjoy a relaxing day at the beach. The enticing combination of the salty sea, warm sand and (hopefully) sunshine makes for the perfect summer recipe, so grab a towel and make a splash! You can also check out this useful website to view England’s top five accessible beaches to find the ideal beach for you.

Have a weekend away

Summery cottage with thatched roof.

If you don’t want to have a trip abroad, there are plenty of beautiful holiday destinations scattered around the UK for that perfect weekend break. A picturesque cottage in the countryside or even glamping by the sea provides a scenic and relaxing way to enjoy the bank holiday, and helpful sites like this help you find the ideal accessible location that meets every requirement.

Visit a castle

Viking helmet and medieval leathers and furs.

Travel back to the medieval times at Beaumaris Castle in Wales! This August bank holiday weekend, the castle is hosting a kid-friendly festival featuring activities like archery and dragon racing, which all take place in the traditional Welsh ruin. Access for visitors in wheelchairs is provided via level terrain and free entry for disabled visitors and a companion. Find more about the event here!

Go to a festival

Performer wearing a carnival mask.

Edinburgh’s famous Fringe Festival finishes just after the bank holiday weekend, and there’s plenty of interesting sights to see. Working with Attitude Is Everything to improve their already excellent accessibility, the Fringe Festival offers you the chance to watch numerous talented musicians, artists, comedians and many more. View more information on their website here.

Experience history

Close-up of a dinosaur’s spine in a museum.

A museum is an exciting way to educate the little ones in the holidays and teach yourself something about the world too. The National History Museum in London has a variety of interesting events and exhibitions perfect for kids and grown-ups alike, with numerous accessible features which you can read more about on their website here.

Step into a story

Young girl reading a book which emits sparkles and a glow.

Visit the Roald Dahl museum in Buckinghamshire and watch his best work come alive. Perfect for families and bookworms, the museum features unusual and exciting exhibitions that are interesting for everyone to view. All of the exhibitions are accessible for visitors with hearing or vision impairments and wheelchair users, and more information is available here.

Let us know your August Bank Holiday plans by tweeting us at @AbilityStore or contacting our Facebook page!

Yellow school bus toy with suitcases on the roof.

5 Ways to Stay Active in the Holidays

The long summer holidays have a way of making us feel sluggish and slow, especially when the typical British rain makes a regular appearance and you’re stuck inside sheltering. It’s also that time of year when everyone wants to get fit and healthy before the run up to Christmas food begins! So what better way to spend your summer than by getting active? Don’t worry — we’ve made sure that these are fun to do, regardless of the indecisive English weather.

Get pedalling

Exercise isn’t for everyone and that’s understandable — it can be difficult getting into the habit of going for a jog or a cycle. And what happens when the clouds decide to burst? Fortunately, we have a great product that’s perfect for exercising from the comfort of a chair or sofa; you don’t even have to leave the house. A pedal exerciser helps to gradually build up strength in the leg muscles, with different resistances to keep you motivated. Pedal away whilst watching TV or reading a book and you’ll be sure to notice a difference.

Go for a stroll

A simple walk outside is one of the most beneficial ways to get active — provided the weather holds up, of course. Not only is it good for you physically, but it can help with mental health too, plus some studies prove that it can be advantageous for individuals living with dementia to improve their memory. In the UK, we’re blessed with lots of beautiful countryside which is just beckoning for us to go and explore — you could even take a camera with you and get some gorgeous snaps of your route.

Be hands-on

As well as exercising your legs, it’s important to strengthen your hands too, especially for individuals with limited dexterity or arthritis. Our gel ball hand exercisers come in a range of different resistances to help to gradually build up strength in the hands, and can also act as a stress ball to calm you down. The durable yet squeezy design is pleasant to touch, whilst the bright colours are ideal for individuals with dementia.

Make a splash

Swimming is a great method of exercise, and it’s fun too! It doesn’t matter if you’re not at Olympic-level  – just a few simple strokes up and down can make the world of a difference. If it’s not warm enough for a dip in the sea, you can have a swim in your local leisure centre where there are often classes during the day that you can join.  Or you could get involved with pool-aerobics, where the resistance of the water adds an extra challenge to regular exercise!

Have a stretch

Stretching is the most important thing to do when warming up, but it’s also effective as a stand-alone exercise too. Products like our Thera-Band exerciser are ideal for providing fun and easy ways to stretch, and you can also use it whilst sitting down too! The Thera-Band comes in different resistances to help build up upper-body strength gradually and improve circulation, helping to prevent the risk of heart problems. An accessible design means that people of all ages and abilities can use it with ease!

How are you going to stay active this summer? Let us know by getting in touch via our Facebook or our Twitter!


Accessible Music Events to Enjoy this Summer

Although music can be enjoyed all year round, summer is a perfect excuse to spend the longer days creating summery playlists, putting some glitter on and embracing the sunshine! Lots of events, gigs and festivals nowadays have introduced plenty of accessible features to their location — we’ve all seen how muddy festivals can get and it doesn’t exactly sell it to wheelchair-users. Fortunately, more and more music events have adapted to suit music lovers with disabilities, including features like wooden walkways for wheelchair users, suitable bathroom facilities and sign language assistants. In this blog post, we’ve included our top five accessible music events to check out — make sure you don’t miss them!

Chase Park Festival

Situated in Gateshead, Chase Park Festival prides itself on being the North-east’s festival for everyone. The organisers work alongside charities such as Attitude is Everything and The Percy Hedley Foundation, to provide music lovers of all abilities with the chance to experience the live bands and excitement of the festival. Additionally, Chase Park has launched a six-month programme for musicians with disabilities, which offers specialist seminars and insider knowledge of the music industry to provide musicians of all abilities with the chance to succeed in a musical career. Chase Park Festival takes place on the 26th August, and you can book your tickets for it here.

Eden Project Accessible Music Sessions

In the iconic Eden Project in Cornwall, it’s the perfect place to sit outside and enjoy some live music in the south-west countryside. Working with The Sensory Trust, a series of summer events titled The Sessions have been established, and are attended by thousands of people! The Eden Project, along with The Sensory Trust, have been working hard to make The Sessions accessible for all music-lovers, by introducing features such as a larger wheelchair viewing platform and featuring hearing balloons so that people with hearing impairments can feel the music.  You can view their specifics on access, via their FAQ page here.

Billy and Andy’s Accessible Music Workshops

Located in Manchester, the heart of music itself, Billy and Andy’s workshops aim to provide a fun and accessible way for young people with disabilities to enjoy learning about music. They have a broad range of activities available, all of which are designed to nurture a love for music and make it easy to be enjoyed by individuals of all abilities. With years of music and instrument experience between them, Billy and Andy’s workshops provide a friendly, easygoing atmosphere for the students. You can book a workshop session via the link here.

Drake Music

A charity based in Manchester, Bristol and London, Drake Music aims to help professional and aspiring musicians learn and enjoy music in a fun and accessible way. The charity features four programmes – Learning & Participation, Training & Consultancy, Research & Development and Artistic Development – which are planned to provide easy and enjoyable musical lessons in a variety of ways. On Drake Music’s website, there is also a news section, which informs musicians of other accessible music schemes to take part in, as well as a volunteer page to get involved as a teacher.


National Allotments Week

National Allotments Week is coming up next week and we’re keen to share all our gardening and planting tips to get those green-fingers working. Having an allotment is more than just growing your own veg; it can be therapeutic to have your own green space and absorb yourself in the process. Plus, you get to eat all the nutritious food too! Read on for tips on how to look after your allotment, along with fun gardening events that you can get involved with.

If you’re an allotment newbie, it’s important that you plan the layout before you get on with planting — just a general idea of what you’re putting where helps to keep your plot neat and organised.  Thoroughly weeding the area is also key as it prevents any weeds growing in that plot and helps to keep your produce healthy.  Also, don’t be put off by the colder months; there are still plenty of veg that can be grown outside during winter, including onions and peas which are perfect for eating up at Christmastime! Check out this site for more info.

Gardening can be an enjoyable solitary activity to help you tune into nature, but it’s great to connect with other veggie fans too. The National Allotments Society have a huge list of exciting events in various allotments around the country, with activities like plant sales, scarecrow competitions and BBQs for everyone to take part in. Or you could enter your home-grown fruit and veg in a competition and show off your hard work! You can check out the full list of the events here and find the event nearest to you.

Similarly, you could always join an allotment group or organisation — it’s a great way to make new friends with similar interests and you can ask for tips whilst you’re there too! Leeds and District Allotment Gardeners Federation are an organisation dedicated to protecting, promoting and preserving allotments by hosting allotment competitions, plant sales and other green events. This year, the centenary celebrations for the organisation fall in the week before National Allotment Week so Leeds is getting several pop-up allotments in various locations across the city centre — check out this page for location details.

If you’re wanting to start your own allotment but you’re not sure how, the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners have lots of information on how to obtain the perfect plot of land to grow your own veg. For gardeners in urban areas, the site also recommends on how to find a vacant bit of land and find out who owns that area — it may be possible for you to start planting there. Even if you’re an experienced gardener NSALG still feature a lot of handy tips on how to maintain your allotment, from introducing chickens to your green patch, to building sheds.

Looking for the right equipment? Why not check out our range of gardening products? Designed to be comfortable for users of all ages and abilities, our gardening tools include angled cultivators, trowels and weeders which have features like ergonomic handles for easy gardening. With the right equipment, it is fun and straightforward to dig into your allotment without having to dig too far into your wallet!

International Friendship Day

No matter your age, culture, gender, distance or even if they’re the furry kind, International Friendship Day celebrates the joys of friendships around the world and the importance of it. We’ve put together the best things about friends – with some input from the rest of the team!

Childhood friends can last a lifetime.

The special thing about being friends from childhood, is that growing up together creates a unique bond as you go through all your stages of life together. From school to your first job to world adventures or settling down.  Although the ups and downs of growing up can mean friendships growing apart, some people hold that special bond that lasts a lifetime.

De-stressing & having fun

“Friends are the ones you can always count on to take your mind off the stressful things in life. Whether it’s sharing a work load or just nipping for a coffee and talking about your day, sometimes the best form of therapy can be talking to a friend.  Distracting yourself for a little while to relax, share funny stories or have some fun can help you unwind and come back focused.”

Adventure is out there

Whether its going on holiday or exploring the world, there’s no better people to do it with than your best friends! Travelling with people is one of the best ways to get to know someone and you can even make more friends along the way as you never know who you may meet!

Inside jokes

Having inside jokes with your friends is a fantastic bond to have. That funny joke that you laughed at until your stomach hurt may just be that thing that you think of to cheer yourself up on a bad day.

Friends are encouraging

“Friends can be the best source of encouragement when you can’t find it from within yourself or from family. The backbone to big dreams can be from that little push from your friend that says “go on, you can do it!”.  Hold on to those friends that have a balance between understanding and honesty, as they can also be that hand to hold you back when it is needed. ”

The family you choose

From short friendships to life long friends, the “family” you choose can have the biggest impacts on your life whether they’re your next door neighbour, live half way around the world or even if your pet is your best friend. They’re the little piece of comfort on hard days and the smile on good ones.

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” –  Henry Ford









Things We (Secretly) Love About British Summers

Us Brits always seem to be moaning about something, it’s either “far too hot today” or “why is it raining in July!?”- when it comes to summer, we just don’t know what we want. But we can’t deny that the typical British things that summer brings here, we don’t secretly love every year!

BBQ’s are out in full force

Picking a good day to have a BBQ in Britain is always a hit or miss chance. When the coals do come out, you can expect the smokey smell of sausages and burgers wafting across the neighbourhood and the usual comment of “ooh someone’s having a BBQ!”.  We can’t deny that we relish the fact to lounge in an old camping chair or under a gazebo in the garden with a burger in a bun!

Never knowing whether to take a coat

Unpredictable weather means unpredictable fashion choices. “Does it look like I need a coat?” is uttered many a morning across Britain as the nation ventures outside. Chances are, if you don’t take a coat, it will rain like never before. If you do, you’ll more than likely be carrying it around all day or trying to stuff it into a bag. On the bright side it will be sunny.

British sea sides

Ah the smell of the salty sea, the taste of fish and chips and the sound of seagulls.  As much as you have to fend off the birds from nipping at your chips, you can’t beat a lovely day at the beach. We might not have those luxurious sandy beaches you see in travel photos, but there are still some great spots around the country to pull up a deck chair and stick your toes in the sand!

The ice cream van

You can’t say that the twinkly noises of your local ice cream man driving down the street doesn’t take you straight back to your childhood of waiting in line for that delicious 99’er. They may not quite be 99p anymore, but you can’t beat a good old Mr Whippy with raspberry sauce and a flake. Even when its raining.

Venturing on holiday

Weather your trawling the family to the airport or taking a road trip somewhere, everyone loves a holiday at summer if you get the chance.  The joy of packing, the frustration of airport queues and traffic jams and the rush of putting your towel at the perfect spot at the pool. It’s all part of it. As well as taking time to actually enjoy yourself and relax!

Eating outdoors

Picnics in the park or pub food in the beer garden can mean bugs galore but there’s not much better than enjoying some grub in the sun. You might end up with sandy sandwiches from the beach, but its all part of fun in the sun, just make sure you don’t get burnt!



Travel Essentials for Holidays Abroad

Holidaying abroad is a great idea until it comes to the stress of packing (and the possibility of forgetting something!). You can make the journey and the holiday it’s self a little easier with our handy travel essentials.

Plane journeys are never the most comfortable, especially if you need to get a bit of sleep along the way! Neck pillows are super popular among flyers, but a memory foam neck pillow will give you the support and rest you need to feel comfortable and refreshed.

If you need a little bit of a zoom-in while reading, a handy pocket magnifier can give you that. Great for reading on the beach or a newspaper over breakfast.  If you’re wanting to read on a night flight but don’t find the over head cabin light too harsh – this handy magnifier even has its own little LED light which will illuminate the page enough to be subtle for any sleepers around you.

Hotels that offer breakfast don’t always cater for the late snoozers – with the slim talking travel clock, you’ll never miss that morning croissant again! The time is also spoken as well as a choice of 3 different alarm sounds.

If you need to take medication whether just in the morning or throughout the day, a travel pill dispenser is handy to keep on the bed side table or take around in your pocket. Keep organised and store whichever medication you need.

It’s not always easy to stay feeling fresh in a hotter climate, sand gets stuck between the toes and sun cream can become sticky by the end of the day. If you need a quick freshen up after a flight or a day at the beach before you head back to the hotel, have some skin care wipes to hand.

Chlorine and salt water can reek havoc on hair. Save your tresses with a funky travel hair dryer that won’t take up lots of space in the suitcase!  Some hotels offer a hairdryer in the room but if you want something fast and comfortable to hold, it’s always better to take your own!

P.S. Don’t forget the sun-cream!

My Sight Loss and Self-Confidence: A Post by Welleyenever

Today’s blog post comes from Glen, who writes about his hobbies and his experiences living with vision impairment over at his blog, welleyenever. In this post, Glen tells us about his life in education with his vision impairment, how his confidence has improved and his tips for other individuals going through similar experiences. Read on for Glen’s story and excellent advice about how to reach out for support if you need it!

My name is Glen, I’m 33 years old, and I work as an IT supervisor in the printing sector. I also moved to London recently, becoming a homeworker in the process, and am happily exploring the city and making new friends. It’s wonderful, but it’s been a long journey to get here, with challenges and surprises along the way.

I was born visually impaired, with aniridia (which means I have no irises) and nystagmus (where my eyes are constantly moving). As a result, I’m overly sensitive to glare and bright daylight, I struggle to see in the dark, and I can’t read or see things clearly unless they are close up or enlarged. All of which has been easy enough to adapt to, but developing my self-confidence was much harder.

I first went to a mainstream school — and, with the right support, many disabled people do succeed in this environment. But here, the teachers didn’t know how to help me, so I couldn’t follow classes and was regularly bullied by other kids. Consequently, the only thing I learnt from that school was that I was unimportant and useless. Utter nonsense of course, but it was all I perceived at the time.

So I was soon transferred to a school for the visually impaired, but by then I was extremely shy. I didn’t like putting my hand up or talking in classes, for instance, out of fear and assumption that I’d be wrong. And it was hard to engage with people that I didn’t know. Indeed, I now got bullied for the fact that I was shy and withdrawn and easy to upset. So I still had that to deal with.

However, there was a key difference this time – I had a great support network. The teachers were very kind, helpful and patient, and there were kids there that I did get on with. It was now possible for me to learn things and get to know people in a more comfortable way. It didn’t change me overnight, but the right seeds were now being sown and nurtured. And so, as time went on, I gradually came out of my shell more and more. I was making close friends and having fun, and I was being praised by the teachers and getting good grades. So there was much to be happy about.

And that led to an unexpected turning point – becoming friends with the children who had been teasing me. By working hard and behaving normally, I was doing much better than them, getting results, perks and treats that they weren’t. Not only did it prove to me that I was doing the right thing, but it also dawned on the bullies that taunting me had been pointless. So we developed a new level of respect and got to know each other better. I finally understood why they had behaved in the way they had, which put everything into context. It had never been my fault or even theirs — they had needed help and support just as I did. So I was able to forgive them and sympathise with them, which really helped.

So by the time I left school, I was a very different person. Not perfect – nobody is – but a lot better than before. I was ready to deal with the transition back to more mainstream environments — college, university and then getting a job — being around non-disabled people more than ever before. I was still a bit wary and shy about this — and I always will be to some degree around people I meet for the first time. But it was no longer a barrier. I was able to talk to people and feel confident about the work I was doing, building up respect and close friendships among those around me. This is especially true in the job I’ve had for over 12 years now. I get on very well with my colleagues, I really feel that I’m a highly valued member of the team.

And those experiences set me up perfectly for my recent move to London – an unexpected but great opportunity that I’ve been making the most of. I’ve joined a few social clubs (and not just ones for people with disabilities), I’ve been exploring lots of places and trying new things, I’ve been blogging and posting videos about it all, and I’ve been making wonderful friends along the way. I could never have imagined being this social and outgoing as a child, but now I am, I’m loving it. It’s been worth the wait.

So my advice to disabled people and those who look after them is simple — don’t give up, even when things are difficult and daunting, and the future seems uncertain. Nobody knows what will happen during their life, and all sorts of things are possible given time, patience, determination and the right support. There are loads of organisations, communities and individuals out there who offer help and advice, and I highly recommend searching online for those that relate to your condition or situation. The help is out there, so never be afraid to ask for it. You’re really not alone.
Thank you for reading, I hope you found it interesting and useful. You can find out more about me and my experiences on my blog and Youtube, and you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Thanks again to Glen for his wonderful contribution and excellent advice on living with a disability! Don’t forget to read more about Glen and his experiences over at his blog and social media.

Survive the 6 Weeks Summer Holiday

The long summer holidays are the highlight of every kid’s year, but for the parents it can be a struggle to keep little ones entertained! With six weeks away from school, there’s plenty of time to discover new activities and fun experiences perfect for kids and grown-ups alike. Read on for our top ways to battle the holiday boredom and make it a summer to remember.

Ride a steam train

A ride on a steam train is a vintage novelty and is guaranteed to get a smile from little and big kids. The volunteer-run railway puffs through the Yorkshire Dales to provide beautiful views of the picturesque English countryside between Embsay station, built in 1888, and the award-winning station at Bolton Abbey. With gift shops at both stations, a buffet car and picnic areas at all stops, there’s everything you need for that perfect retro summer trip.

Get lost in Wistow Maze

This famous maze in a Leicestershire hamlet is a perfect family attraction with something for everyone. Each year the maze takes the form of a different object, such as a dinosaur or a rocket, which is guaranteed to captivate your kids! With three miles of pathways, there’s plenty of quizzes and puzzles to take part in, in addition to the cafe bistro, gallery and shops across the road for the parents.

Magic memories at Bewilderwood

Escape to local author Tom Blofeld’s imaginary world, which has been brought to life in this fairytale forest in Norfolk! With special events taking place during the summer holidays, your kids will love exploring the treetops and letting their imaginations run wild. This magical experience will charm kids and adults alike, providing the whole family with an extraordinary trip to the countryside this summer.

Escape to the seaside

A trip to the seaside is the ultimate summer holiday day out for families! This north-eastern beach in Seaburn offers hours of fun exploring the rock pools,  building sandcastles and discovering strange and beautiful sea creatures. Enjoy an affordable meal from the local chippy and, depending on the unpredictable British weather, you might even want to brave a swim in the North Sea – or at least a paddle!

Journey to Beatrix Potter world

Kids will love this journey into the mind of Beatrix Potter, situated in the charming Lake District town of Bowness-on-Windermere. Venture into the world of Peter Rabbit and his animal friends, and explore the picturesque gardens, tea room and gift shop that has something for everyone. This stunning attraction brings Potter’s colourful characters to life, perfect for families to visit!