There are different ideas to be considered when you are thinking about going on holiday. Accommodation is, of course, top of the list, but there aren’t many places suitably adapted for people with disabilities. And, naturally, when you’re on holiday comfort is a must.

The Homelands Trust-Fife has had the idea to provide a “top quality holiday accommodation and optional supportive day services” with its cottages and Paxton Centre. The thought came about in 1998 to carry out the wishes of Miss Isabel Paxton of Lundin Links. She wished “to establish a facility to enable people affected by a range of disabling conditions, including their family, friends and carers, to have a holiday or break in a beautiful location”. In her will Miss Paxton left her estate to charity.

 

Paxton Centre, which is 12 miles from St. Andrews, has four self-catering holiday cottages, which provide specialised equipment for disabled guests. You can find, among other things, ceiling tracking hoists, a wet floor shower room and electric profiling beds.

 

Barbara Maclean and Zoe stayed in Drummochy cottage, one of the Homelands’ cottages, with their two dogs, Remus and Alfie. They had a good time there and kindly took the time to answer some questions about their experience.

 

Did you like homelands Trust-Fife? Would you recommend this holiday?

“We had a very enjoyable stay at Homelands.  We found the cottage and the surroundings very relaxing and tranquil. We would definitely recommend the Homelands Trust as an accessible holiday for friends and family”. 

 

How was the accessibility of the house and the general area?

“The house was very accessible overall.   It would have been helpful to have more lowered surfaces and appliances in the kitchen to allow the disabled person to help to prepare meals.   Also more accessible storage in the downstairs bathroom would give easier access to toiletries. Also re-positioning of the Closomat toilet would enable the wheelchair user better access plus a slightly larger wash basin would be good”.

What adaptations were in the house? What was particularly good?

“The profiling bed was very comfortable.  Easy access to the washing machine meant I could load and unload the washing machine independently with the help of my assistance dog. The wet room was very spacious and the ceiling hoists were impressive. I am used to a self-propelling shower chair at home and so was dependent on my carer being in attendance to move in/out of the shower area.  My carers found the wheel brakes very stiff to apply perhaps due to the newness and had to bend down to apply and release these by hand”.

 

Were there any adaptations you would have liked that weren’t fitted?

“Lowered surfaces in the kitchen to allow me to prepare food etc. A toilet area for my assistance dog”.

How was the service?

“The reception staff members were very helpful and attentive.  They were also happy to offer information with respect to the local area and possible wheelchair friendly dog walks.  They helped with information about prospective carers for future visits should we need them and details of therapists as the Paxton Centre facilities were not yet available”.

 

What about the local area? Were there many good things to see/do?

“The local area was very picturesque and so lovely for going on walks although much of the Fife Coastal Path is inaccessible for wheelchairs.  We often struggled to find a disabled toilet e.g. in Crail and so moved on to a nearby village where we had recent knowledge of such facilities. We found Falkland Palace totally inaccessible and so grudged paying the garden entrance fee as there was really nowhere to go at all.  The volunteer selling the tickets was also not at all happy with my assistance dog.

I could not even access the gift shop due to many steps. Kellie Castle was more accessible but again we were not allowed into the café with the assistance dog so we had our lunch in the garden. The people were friendly and there was a reasonable disabled toilet. We managed to access the walled garden but not the castle. St Andrews was very interesting and we enjoyed it very much. The Tourist Office there had absolutely no information for disabled tourists.  There was disabled street parking.

It would be good if the Tourist Offices could work alongside the Homelands Trust to find out more about the needs of disabled people.  Fisher and Donaldson the amazing cake shop! Welcomed us in with the dogs and even gave us free chocolates so lots of Brownie points for them!!!”.

What kind of holiday is this place ideal for? More of a relaxed holiday or a fun one?

“More of a relaxed holiday with the amazing quality of the cottage and the superb views”.

Will you be returning for another stay?

“Yes, we will definitely be returning again and again!!”.

Photos: courtesy of Homelands.

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