I’m on a bit of a mission at the moment to find more Toby friendly places to visit in the North East. (I’m also on a mission to get him to sleep but he’s been up since 2am…it’s now 4am) We struggle to do the ‘normal’ days out that most families do…beaches, large parks, museums, soft play areas, cinema etc as these are really challenging for Toby (and us!)
His behaviour isn’t great when he’s at home so we try and go somewhere most days. However we tend to go places just for an hour as he becomes overwhelmed by being around lots of people. We have National Trust membership which is fantastic as they have some great play areas and we also have Adventure Valley (local adventure play farm) which we use a lot too. Having these annual passes means that we are not too bothered about only being there for an hour (unlike most people who spend the whole day at these sort of places) as we haven’t wasted our admission money. For us to get in to Adventure Valley on a normal day without our annual passes would be about £30 for all of us (Teddy is under 2 so free) which is quite a lot when Toby can only cope with an hour! So our passes allow us to go most weekends (and it feels as if it’s free as we’ve paid for a year up front!) However we fancied a change yesterday so decided to visit Washington Wetlands Centre.
The Wetlands Centre has been on my list of places to visit for a while now however after watching Justin Fletcher visit on a recent episode of Something Special we decided that we had to go! Teddy is a big Mr Tumble fan…and so is Joel…not that he would admit that…however he spent a lot of time pointing out places that Justin Fletcher stood!
We booked our tickets online (which saved us 10%) and we got one adult in free as a career – I’m not shy to ask for a discount! My Max Card also offer discounts however Durham County Council do not currently issue these (other local authorities do) We got to the Wetlands Centre for just after opening time.
The first thing that I noticed was how quiet and peaceful it was! Toby sat quite happily in the pushchair wearing his ear defenders (whole place is pushchair/wheelchair friendly too) The ducks and brids made some noises but that didn’t seem to bother Toby too much.
Ted loved wandering around and seeing all the wildlife. Toby was quite happy watching from a distance in his pushchair but was taking everything in. One of the great things was that everything was quite spaced out so it didn’t feel too busy which I think really helped Toby. We had a lovely walk through the forest and Joel enjoyed collecting bird feathers for ‘school’…I think he enjoyed it more than the boys!
We finally came to the playground which again was quite spread out. Again it was really quiet and the fact that it was so spread out allowed Toby to run to a different area whenever someone came near to him. I had read online that in the playground there was a splash zone area and they advised people to bring spare clothes so I was all prepared with the boy’s wellies and all in one water-proof suits..however we didn’t get round to putting them on and Toby ran right in to a huge puddle that came up to his knees…it didn’t seem to bother him too much! I would imagine that the splash zone gets quite busy on a warm day but today there was only my two in it! We had a picnic lunch and a lovely walk around before heading back to the car. Joel and I where amazed that we had been there nearly two and a half hours and Toby had copied amazingly well. We could have easily stayed another hour but my painkillers were wearing off and my head is still a bit fragile so we didn’t want to over do it!
All in all a fantastic (and in our experience asd friendly) place to visit and we will defiantly be back!