A new place to relax

(Cleeve Spa Hotels’ Coffee Shop)

Wheelchairs have a nasty habit of leaving wheel marks wherever they go. In our house we put down sheets. Ooops, there I go, ‘we’ put down sheets, as if I play any part in the action. When we visit Mary’s dad in Dawlish, ‘we’ cover his carpets too. But you can’t carry sheets with you for every trip you take. Shops, café’s, church just generally being out and about is a messy business in a wheelchair. When you are walking you can take your shoes off, or at least wipe your shoes on a matt. Have you ever tried wiping six wheels on a door matt? I have and it doesn’t work. When we stay at the RCH hotel in Dawlish, we always feel bad coming into their lovely carpets with dirty wheels. So, ‘we’ try and clean the wheels. I should say, they always say not to worry. I too and fro and spin round on the door matt. Some mud and leaves come off, but often Mary has to actually clean the wheels with water and a brush.

View from the conservatory seating at coffees shop

Yesterday we decided to visit Cleeve Spa’s new coffee shop that only opened that day. There were still one or two finishing touches being carried out when we arrived. But on the whole, it looked great. I wheeled up to the entrance door and we were greeted by a few staff members whom we knew. We looked at the narrow door which had a slight bump on the threshold, Mary and I were anxious that if my wheelchair jumped it would bang the frame. But the staff were unconcerned about that. They were much more focussed that we were happy and safe. They offered to open both doors, which would have involved a lot of difficulties as the second door was fixed in place awaiting an electric opening system. We decided to give the single open door a try, slowly, and with a slight bump all went well. What a fantastic place greeted us inside. A lovely series of spaces to sit and chat or look out over the beautiful surrounding countryside. At the far end there is even a separate room that can be hired for functions. I started to work out how many years till I was sixty and would we still be in this area. I decided it was far too many years in the future to plan. We explored the inside, wheeling and walking around.

On first arriving at the coffee shop, this part has a wooden floor

How many people would be OK with white wheel marks on their new dark grey tiled floor? I know I wouldn’t, so when I was retracing my tracks and saw the trail I’d left, I was horrified. What did the staff make of it? They were amazing, “No, problem.” They said, “It’s going to happen.” They acted like it was just a floor.

Note grey tiled floor. Fortunately you can’t see my wheel marks

Mary and I had set out not knowing what to expect of the new coffee house. It’s a place we had watched being built over the previous months and been curious to see finished. As I sit here listening to coffee house jazz, and enjoying my coffee, writing this blog I am impressed. This is a place we will be visiting again. The lunchtime menu looks like it will be interesting. My mum and sister are visiting next weekend, so maybe this a place to come. You’ll think the Spa is paying me to review them. Trust me, they aren’t. Nice idea though.

Mary enjoying her coffee

It’s Cleeve Spa where Mary comes when I have my carers looking after me. Some of her carers allowance pays for it. If Mary doesn’t stay well and healthy it won’t just be her that suffers, so it’s very important that she has a place to relax and exercise. Now we have a coffee shop for an occasional treat too.

Me writing this blog

I want to say a word about Cleeve Spa as a hotel. Because the coffee shop is part of the whole complex. It’s a family run hotel, that has function rooms for hire, does lovely food, has a spa, swimming pool, steam room, jacuzzi, gym, does massage and other treatments and runs exercise classes. Our children treated Mary to a big birthday celebration here, it was a spa weekend with treatments and meals in a function room.

Mary’s Birthday celebration at the Spa

We also had a pre wedding celebration here for our son Adam as I couldn’t make it to the wedding in Alnwick. The staff set both events up wonderfully and the family enjoyed their spa treatments and relaxation. The location, up on a hill, looking out towards Wellington monument makes it peaceful and scenic. The grounds are large and have plenty of seating for the better weather. One aside, we walk, and I wheel to the spa from our house. The last part is up a steep driveway. Whoever is operating my wheelchair is always breathing heavily at this point. I breath normally, does that mean I am fitter? I can’t think of another explanation.

Occasionally I‘ve sat in reception and had a coffee while Mary is swimming. This is possible because Mary is a short walk away and easily called by the staff if I had any problems. The staff are incredibly friendly, helpful and kind. When Mary and I have had a meal here they’ve given us a quiet table to sit at where my chair can recline. I can’t really over emphasise how great they have been to us. The coffee shop is a new venture for them, and I hope a successful one. It’s certainly a welcome addition from my perspective.

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Author: Mike Nevin

I decided to write about the funny side of being cared for. I am a full time wheelchair user with daily carers. It's my experiences with my carers that inspired this blog.

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