By Jason Richards

This year we opted for a staycation during the school summer holidays. Not to save money, as clearly remaining in the UK and going out every day was probably equally as expensive as going away. Rather because the kids had a list of things they wanted to do, places they wanted to visit and people they wanted to see. Me and the Ford Galaxy were merely the vehicles to make that happen.

And happen it did. Over one week in August we covered several hundred miles, saw all the things we set out to visit, did all the things on the kid’s wish list and shared a fantastic week with the friends and family. All of this was made possible by the Ford Galaxy.

The Galaxy is one of those vehicles that quietly gets on with the job at hand, delivers it with ease and comfort and never moans along the way. However, my three kids are programmed a little differently. Fourteen-year-old twins and a three-year-old with a car seat take up a lot of space, both in the Galaxy and in my head! But for one week this year the Galaxy comfortably swallowed up the five of us and took us where we wanted to go.

On the twins list was fly fishing at Kilnsey Park, a Superhero Day out, meeting up with friends at Newby Hall, cycling for one of them and a family get together at my wife’s Mums with their cousin.

Our three-year-olds list was endless, but we narrowed it down to Superhero day at Stockheld Park, riding the train and playing in the sandpit and fountains at Newby Hall and a trip to the RHS Harlow Carr.

My wife and I simply went along for the ride, whilst secretly loving almost every minute of seeing the kids in their element and happy.

Our first trip in the Galaxy was just s short hop across Harrogate to RHS Harlow Carr. Five people, a car seat, a wheelchair and a pushchair easily handled by the Galaxy with room to spare. Soon we were out in the summer air enjoying the sites, playgrounds and café in the gardens before heading home at the end of the day with weary eyes and sleepy heads.

The next adventure involved just me and the twins. The night before our trip the Galaxy boot was loaded with fishing rods, landing nets, waterproofs (not that we needed the during the hot summer months this year) and made ready for an early start the next day. This was a longer journey up into the wilds of the North Yorkshire dales to Kilnsey Park. This is a favourite accessible fly-fishing haunt of mine. However, it was not my turn to fish but the turn of the twins. We had a fabulous day filled with takes, near misses and lost trout. Sadly, the twins didn’t land any this time, but we all had a fantastic day out in the most picturesque setting.

Then came the turn of our three-year-old. Superhero day at Stockheld Park had been booked weeks, if not months, I advance and the whole concept of Superhero’s and a day of fun packed activities was a strong lure to get him ready and out of the house. The Galaxy quickly filled with a wheelchair, pushchair and five people but was happy to accommodate us all for just a 15-minute drive to our destination. Breakfast, dressing and packing all seemed to happen very quickly and it wasn’t until we arrived, and all piled out of the car that I realised I had left my bag in the hallway in our haste to leave and make our entry slot. So, everyone went in and left me and the Galaxy to another 30 minutes together driving home to pick up what I needed and then returning to join them. It was worth the extra drive as the day was a hoot, so much to do, lots of activities and of course all themed with Superhero’s. By the time they were closing, and we were ready for home there were some tired eyes and legs crawling back into the Galaxy. Within less than a mile everyone, except me of course, was asleep. The comfort and safety of the Galaxy gave me a reassuring feeling that my family were in safe hands as they slept, and I drove them home.

After a day of rest and now into the later part of the week it was down to me to steer the next trip to success. Our final adventure was to be at Newby Hall near Ripon. Again, only a 40-minute drive so all within easy reach. It’s a place we have been before, but it ticked all the boxes for our Friday adventure. The twins’ friends were also heading there with their families so they were happy to have some company and Arlo was content knowing there was a sand pit, a miniature train to ride and some fountains and water jets you can dance around in. As the twins disappeared into the distance Arlo found himself a friend in the sandpit and they sat happily loading diggers, sharing spades and making sandcastles. I am always amazed how quickly children make friends and find common interests. They must have really gelled as the little boy then came with us to ride the miniature train, sitting in the carriage behind us with his mum. Arlo loved every second of the journey as we raced along the track, through tunnels and trees and beautiful scenic parkland over bridges and alongside the river. He looked so happy and so free. I have no sitting balance and there was no back support, so I was clinging on for my life and concentrating on not having a rail side disaster. Quite a contrasting pair and very different facial expressions during that train journey. Soon we were chasing the twins through the water jets, trying not to get soaked, before the Arlo’s new friend had to leave and we met with the twins to go out in the little peddle boats. I stayed firmly on dry land, but the twins took Arlo out for several laps of the lake, whilst I watched in the August sun. Before long we were enjoying a much-needed drink before heading home again.

By the time it got to the weekend we had filled our time so fully with days out that everyone was ready for a rest. Saturday was a lazy day with family at my wife’s mum’s house. It was nice not to be making pack lunches early in the morning and having to worry about packing everything we might need. This was followed by roller disco where the twins help out and Arlo likes to scoot around whilst they set everything up and he listens to his favourite songs as they prepare for the arrival of the skaters. I must admit it’s a time when we all zone out, go into our own little worlds with the music in our heads and it brings a moment of reflection after a busy week.

On Sunday the Galaxy became a shuttle bus, dropping the twins off, taking Arlo to the park and closing out a brilliant staycation week.

It’s funny that a car can facilitate of this activity and fun. Disability is often hard, demanding and frustrating. So, when something makes life easier and more enjoyable, I welcome it with open arms. That’s exactly how I feel about the Galaxy. I welcomed it with open arms and have clung on to its comfort, space and effortlessness ever since. Few cars provide such ease of mobility for a wheelchair use. My SMAX did this and I hope that the new Grand Tourneo Connect will be just as easy to live with when its finally time to say goodbye to the Galaxy. I loved my staycation and the time with my family and with the right vehicle a staycation is as good as any other holiday.