Siblings of special needs kids have special needs too... growing up with a disabled brother or sister can help them develop good qualities but it can also present many challenges for them. They often don't get to do things that their peers get to do or have the same amount of time or attention spent on them as it is often needed more elsewhere. So over the years we have made an effort to carve out time to do something special purely for them.
A few weeks ago the boys headed out on a father and sons camp/soap box racing event...so that meant it was the perfect opportunity for a mommy and daughter date. Yippee!
For quite a few years now we have created a tradition that when the boys go to camp I get to take "daughter number 2" to go do something fun...getting some good quality one on one time while Heni stays at home with a carer.
On our previous mommy daughter dates we have been on day trips to the beach, wondered around lovely English gardens, gone to the outdoor pool to do aqua classes and have been shopping in different towns etc. I usually give daughter no 2 the chance to decide between a few options, and this time (seeing as she loves everything "MERLIN") she chose to go look around a Castle!
ARUNDEL Castle is one of England's longest inhabited country houses (attached to the original castle which dates back to 1067). It is situated on the south coast of England, about four miles away from the seaside town of Littlehampton and is the current home of the Duke and Dutchess of Norfolk (strange because it is nowhere near Norfolk!) The castle stands majestically on top of a hill, while the town of Arundel sits beneath it. The Arun river (which the town gets it name from) meanders around the castle and through the town and finally runs in to the sea...
We went prepared for every eventuality... and of course the great British weather!
Picnic, beach gear, wet weather gear, hiking boots, camera (you will have to excuse the amount of photos there are in this post!).. you name it we had it...
Our journey down was about 1 1/2 hours .... a good time to spend chatting and singing to music together.
After getting lost a few times (due to sat nav issues) we arrived in the town and parked up beneath the imposing walls. We decided to take a look around the town (before our picnic lunch) and then head up to the castle in the afternoon. The first thing we came across was a local farmers market that was set up in the square and along the banks of the river. After a quick peruse, we wandered down some side lanes to find some gorgeous flower shops that smelled like heaven!
mixed in with some lovely antiques and "bric a brac"
An old chapel was converted in to a market where collectors and crafts people had a variety of stalls ranging from tiny dolls house miniature accessories (which daughter no 2 loved).... to normal scale restored furniture.
Here are some photos of the walk up to the castle.
One of the castle towers!
What a gorgeous sunny day for us to walk around the gardens! (bet the boys were also glad they didn't get rained on at camp this year!) The lime beech leaves are enough to zing anyone's spirits against the blue sky.
We walked by the Fitzalan chapel.... the tulips were just "going over".... one week earlier and it would have been even more stunning.
Some of the highlights of the garden for me were the the impressive structures like the pergolas and arches. From a distance they looked like they were built from stone but when you walked up close you could tell they were made from oak (taken from Windsor park...where the queen has a castle) and antlers from a near by deer park.
The arches were MASSIVE... very impressive.
The gardens sit next to a pretty cathedral... which also sits on top of the hill above the town.
The benches...were all carved out of wood!
Here are some more photos from around the gardens.....
The Potager/kitchen garden
The glass houses....
Garden entrance/exit over hanging with wisteria vines.
....followed by a lie down in the sun and some more selfies!
... of the daisy chains we made....
More pictures around the castle grounds....
...and also this one taken from on top of the walls looking inside ....
Standing at the top of the steps up to the "Keep"
Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures inside the house so I can't show you what it looked like (probably a good job as there are a lot of pictures here anyhow!).... but the rooms were amazing. Our favourite room was the library, which was almost on par with the one in the beauty and the beast film...only this one was rectangular and not circular! It was a "two tier" room and had stair cases and ladders to access all the books. Daughter no 2 loves to have her nose in a book all the time so it was a good job you couldn't get to them or we would have been in there for hours!
After the tour we decided to head to the out door "Lido" for an hour to cool down (very unusual for this time of year in England!) with a dunk and a few laps.
The lido was very quaint with "beach huts" as changing rooms. The best bit was the view of the castle from the pool in the background.
We decided that as we were so close to the beach we couldn't drive all the way down here and not go see the sea. We hopped in the car for the 15 minute journey to "Climping beach" and went hunting for heart shaped rocks for my collection... followed by strawberries and a lie down.
This year we managed to do EVERYTHING...castles, mooching around the shops, picnic, pool, beach. Arundel castle is a definite "to do" list item if you are in England or if you ever come to England to visit.
The only negative for the whole trip was Arundel town scored zero on the "catering for food intolerance" front. A shame.... but for all of you who can eat anything and everything there are lots of restaurants to chose from. We didn't let that spoil our day though and we made a stop at "Nandos" (which has a comprehensive intolerance menu) on the way home to fill our stomachs! It was a fantastic day spent with my gorgeous girl.I love spending time with her... we always have fun and I am reminded how lucky I am to have her as one of my daughters...a very smart, special girl who I have to remember is also traveling the Heni journey too...
Looking forward to seeing how we can match it next year!
P.S My challenge to you is to carve out some time in the diary to go on a date with a son or daughter soon... it doesn't have to be a long one or anything ultra expensive.... some times a walk and talk is all that's needed..but why not be creative?
Let me know what you get up to...I could put it on my list for another year!
Whatever you do I hope you have a blast!