Like many parents that have children with additional needs, childcare is a luxury that we don’t always have, especially not for extended periods of time. When we initially set up Spectrum Holidays, we made the decision to include Luca in all of our property visits, not only to manage the childcare difficulties, but also because he provides a unique insight in to how an autistic person may view the property/site/park, This also allows us to think about what support we can offer families who want to stay in those properties Luca has the self given title of CEO and we think he is the best CEO we could have!
We always start our property visit preparations with Luca well in advance of our trip, especially since we had 18 months off visits during the height of the pandemic so he is out if the visit routine. There are a few things that work well when taking Luca away on visits, such as involving him in the property research, giving him a particular job to do while we are there (videographer usually) staying in the same brand of hotel and only for 1 night at a time, (the rooms look the same no matter which one you are in) and of course, making sure we have his iPad and toys.
We didn’t need to worry about how Luca would manage at the property visit on this occasion, Leafy Fields is set up to welcome children and people with additional needs. Dannie and Andrew, the owners, have lived experience of autism, which is evident in the way the manage the site. There are some farm animals that children can see, but not too many that its overwhelming. Andrew and Dannie explained that the Guinea pigs are often used as a form of pet therapy and children often feel calm and relaxed when holding them. When we arrived, Andrew and Dannie were letting the miniature horses out of their paddock to have a walk around the site, this is something that only happens when there are no guests in the accommodations. Andrew and Dannie also allow children to groom the horses (if the horses are available and willing) and that can be arranged with them when you are there. Luca was very taken by the horses, especially Minty!
We also loved the Sensory Room, the space is used extremely well, Andrew and Dannie have managed to create a really calm and relaxing environment with lighting, soft furnishings and even a swing! use of the sensory room is usually only available to families that purchase the Sunflower Pack, which allows families to book time in the room. Dannie and Andrew are offering our families free use of the sensory room during their stay! You will still need to book your slots in advance.
We loved looking at the different accommodation, so much thought has obviously gone in to each one to make them all a fantastic place to stay. The Safari tents are really big, and there is lots of space inside to cook, eat and play. The tents both have a double bed, bunk beds and the most fantastic cabin bed which is hidden away behind little wooden doors. There is also a quiet space underneath the cabin beds that is a great area to use as a chill out space and would be the perfect place to use our Spectrum Pack. The bathrooms are large and modern, and the showers have led lights attached creating a fun sensory experience. There is also a mud kitchen outside on the decked area. There is seating outside which looks over the countryside, and an area for a fire pit where you can make s’mores which Dannie and Andrew can also supply!
The Shepherds Hut is really well designed and has a double bed that you climb a few steps to get up to, and the 2 single beds are stored one in top of the other to create more space when they are not in use, When you’re ready for bed just pull them back out! There is a bathroom with shower and flushing toilet, and fully equipped kitchen too.
The Bell Tent wasn’t up when we visited as the tent is only bookable from May onwards, however, we did walk up to the place the tent would usually be and we were amazed by the 2 purpose built cubby’s that house a kitchen with a dining table, and one that contains a fantastic claw foot, roll top bath tub and flushing toilet! Such a fantastic idea.
We sampled the delicious home made chocolate shortbread biscuits that are made locally, and took home S’mores kits for our nephew, who told us that they were the “best s’mores ever!” On our way home we even stopped at the Milk Shed, which is close by Leafy Fields and has a DIY vending machine that allows you to choose your own milkshake flavour (so many to choose from) before you pop the bottle in to the machine to full up with fresh milk from their dairy farm. Genius!
Andrew an Dannie have some exciting plans for Leafy Fields and we can’t wait to see them unfold. Luca has asked repeatedly to go back to stay and we plan in doing that very soon! We will take a video diary of our stay and share that with you on social media. There is so much more that I can’t fit in to the space allowed for this blog, but it’s safe to say we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Leafy Fields Glamping.