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Tag Archives: Out&About

The Great Greenwich Expedition

Drafty and drizzly began the day as we boarded our first train heading to the city passing stranded commuters held up by a traffic incident. Our second train a lot more comfortable, the disabled seating is in first class.  We’d just about left the county before we started on our sausage sandwiches.  Big Sis grabbed a copy of the complimentary local paper for its taxing cryptic crossword and once coffee had been purchased we taxed our brains (more like she exercised hers and I confused mine) only one clue not answered.  Being engrossed we hadn’t noticed the time, our train was speed restricted due to animals on the line earlier, instead of arriving at 10.20 it was 10.45. Hey ho.

Map in hand we three stepped forth to Tower Wharf to catch the river taxi to Greenwich. What an easy, slick, comfy operation! We were listening to a guide inform a group. That’s the downside of independent travel, you don’t discover the tidbits of anecdotes. Seamlessly we were there and before us was the vessel floating on her glass ocean. Prior to coming people had remarked how small the ship seemed, but not so to me. We found our way in and the lift down to the cafe beneath the keel. Hmm, first disappointment of the day, the selection was very limited and rather artisan not to mention a little over priced.  Still it was quite something sitting beneath the copper/zinc coated keel, it was fascinating seeing the shaping and riveting, the rudder was hardly very wide at all, and the prow seemed square not really shaped to cut through the water.  There was an impressive collection of figureheads, on show, such fun colourful characters.

Up a level and into the hold, reading various aspects like the crew numbers, miles travelled, how the tea crates were packed, life at the time and the importance of trade.  Think Tetris on a grand scale.  Did you know she transported more than tea?  The tween deck spacious and informative with artefacts from her glory days and the history of her owner.  Up on deck the livestock was housed, as well as the galley, crew bunks, carpenters workshop, bosun’s, officers and captains quarters, there is even a head! Peering in at the wooden crew bunks they looked a bit more spacious than the tallships I’ve sailed!  The deck was a lot wider and more spacious than expected although one or two of the ropes coiled and fastened to their pegs would not have passed our Bosun’s inspections.  Accessibility was very good, with only the quarter decks inaccessible and I didn’t notice the visual alternatives. It was pleasingly atmospheric being surrounded by the wood, teak and rope, the brain managed to recall names of various elements of rigging, sails and infrastructure. Woohoo!

We moved on to the Royal Maritime Museum, we perused the extensive collection of Nelson related items, the Jutland exhibition, the Royal Barge (the jubilee barge Gloriana was based on her) used my one of the George’s, which had another barge following along the Thames bringing the orchestra who played Handle’s Water Music on loop (18th century iPod, lol), the Miss Britain III speed record vessel. A section about the yachts in the America’s Cup race.  I must admit I find these types of museums detached and a little dis interesting.  I was surprised there was practically nothing about knots and rope work, nothing on how sailing works, how is harnesses the wind and makes it move, what a rudder does. 

We ambled our way back to the gastro pub practically beneath the Cutty’s stern, the Gipsy Moth for dinner, two thick slices of ham off the bone, two mighty fried eggs and triple cooked chips. Drool worthy and the comfortable ambience, pleasant staff and surroundings most welcome.  Before long we were back aboard the water taxi, zooming up river to Tower (at least our stops were pretty noticeable) and meandering back to the station.  Giggle of the day? The staff disabled loo at the train station, parked on the throne taking care of business I looked to my right for the signs of loo paper, none there, maybe behind me standing atop the cistern, nope. I glanced across my wheelchair beside the loo and there level with the wheel was the circular container. No chance of reaching it!

On the return journey Big Sis and I attempted the other cryptic crossword in the paper. How did we fair, erm, well, our words fitted the clues and the space but were wrong.

Collapsed into bed 10.45pm, ready to be flat and still.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2017 in General, Life, people

 

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The Cost Of Investing Hope

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I am pondering….. contemplating….. wondering….. considering…..

You see, this all hinges on at what point do you resign yourself to the not possible and suffer the mild case of disappointment and despondency versus the okay lets seriously plan out and cost doing, to then have it fall at a hurdle that you cannot overcome but cause and suffer greater despondency, disappointment and depression; because the probability of this coming off is slim but if it does, well, its an experience to dine out on for eons.

This is going to sound vague but, there is a mild possibility of an event a few hundred miles away which if asked I would jump to attend.  It will involve train1, train2, mad dash in taxi across city, train3, taxi to overnight accommodation, taxi to and from event, taxi to train station, train 4, mad dash across city, train5, train6, get home, collapse from exhaustion.  It will involve a degree of hanging about and rather more standing about [well not for me obvs I’m in my chariot but pusher would be standing about].

Now, if I was an able bodied Joe, even if one that has to avoid steps and stairs, there would be no issue. I’d be on my way, even if it was relatively last minute.  But I’m a crip in a chariot, who needs a carer, and to book the one and only wheelchair seat on six specific trains, to find wheelchair accessible taxi’s and wheelchair accommodating accommodation, as well as clarify venue’s facilities for wheelies, etc, etc.

Still, it is all rather hypothetical at present, but this is what deteriorating conditions do to you. Something you did not ask for, do anything to get, slowly takes away all options, skills, desires, dreams and renders you sarcastic, bitter, annoyed, pitiful, selfish, and many other such words all covered with a mask of humour and a smile.

Going would cause strain, discomfort and heaps of anxiety but the gain of the experience would outweigh that, but the potential pain caused by the collapse of the dream would be reasonably significant and there would be no gain, no compensation no alternative to offset it.

This post is not about going or getting there, it is not about me and how I cope, it is about at what point do you just have to learn to live with the fact that some dreams will come with a nightmare attached. To avoid the nightmare let go of the dream.

I feel a “Violet Elizabeth” type tantrum in the air ………

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Eyes to the Right!

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Last Wednesday [yes, the day before the world went pouty mad] Big Sis, BIL and I got up early and headed to the train station, our destination, the big smoke, Londinium, the capitol … this years escapades involved a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament and a river cruise, plus dining at our now favourite place The Drift at Heron Tower.

We arrived without hitch or hold up and taxied to the Lord Entrance, past the growing floral tributes to the Late Jo Cox MP laid out on Parliament Square.  Through the ‘airport style security’ and into the hallowed grounds.  We had planned a light luncheon in the Jubilee Cafe and to get the bargain priced guide book from the shop (£5, thoroughly recommend) before perusing Westminster Hall in readiness for the tour to begin.

If you ever get the chance, grab it, I organised my tour through my MP’s office which meant it was free, but even at the ticket price of £25.50 is better value than some venues.  Our guide Phillip made the walk around engaging, enthralling and amusing, bringing in all his tourees to be seen as a person of history – I was a new MP experiencing first State Opening and no hope of heck getting into House of Lords to hear the Queens Speech and how I go about getting myself seen and heard [you have to put your prayer card in the holder at the seat you choose on the benches before morning prayers], the significance of ornament .  You learn of the assassination of Spencer Pervecal in 1815 at the hand of John Bellingham … which bits are victorian fake gold and which bits are stolen, well purloined, Welsh Gold …. the blue carpet and why the royals only tread in specific areas … the significance in the position of the Mace … how to become  Lord/Lady and sit at cross benches … anecdotes such as Henry VIII aged 9 rode his horse into Westminster Hall; the place where Thomas Moore [Man For All Seasons] was tried, where Charles I was tried by Cromwell … how the Palace was re-jiggered following the bombing in WWII that struck the Commons …. when it became a permanent home to Parliament [prior to this it followed the Monarch on progress or from Palace to Palace] … the politics of position and the Parliamentary Post Office …. we saw copies of Hansards and how it is produced … the Parliamentary voting system and how it is more foolproof than any paper or electronic system.

It had not clocked with me that as Parliament was in recess for the continued referendum campaigning, that we would be able to go into the Commons and Lords, bonus for us! After 90 minutes and utter entertainment, we wanted to go round again. I imagine you could do so with different guides and discover something different each time.

We sauntered across Westminster Bridge and to the London Eye, the embarkation point for our 40-minute trip and were boarded quickly. The ropes let go and the engines revved we sailed down to Tower Bridge, our commentator trying his hardest to name and fact various bridges and buildings.  It was over all too quickly, and we taxied back to Heron Tower for some super fabulous gorgeous tasty food {I have been lusting for their scotch egg on piccalilli since last year!

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scotch egg with black pudding on piccalilli

Home and a bed by 11pm ….. 17 hours after leaving it, educated, entertained and exhausted.

Now to read the guide boo to remember all the things I forgot to mention here!

 

p.s.  Big Sis searched, she looked, she scrutinised but she didn’t find an upside down Union Flag *phew* LOL

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in General, In The News, Life, people

 

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Planning the plans to plan the thing

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It sounds easy – hop a train to the big smoke, take a tour around an ancient building, wander across the bridge and take a scenic river cruise before getting to the favoured eatery for dinner and hop the train back home – simples, right?!?  Well sort of usually yes until you add the obstacle of a wheelchair.

We are not going until sometime towards the end of June, but you have to sort these things early.  First I contact the Houses of Parliament [via my MP’s secretary] to ask when there are places on the tours across a number of dates, that can take a wheelchair person.  Of course the reply is “when do you want to come”; well you see it depends on whether the ONE wheelchair space is available on each of the FOUR train journeys, once I have the dates the HofP Tour can happen, I can see what train seats are available and confirm a date and time.  Pencils don’t exist in an electronic world … the HofP couldn’t pencil me across two or three dates that I could confirm within 24 hours, so it was a case of keeping everything crossed, would it be too tempting for Lord Sod and Mischievous Murphy to tinker and f-udge up best laid plans.

Then I called the Train People – I need one wheelchair and 2 others on these trains, on these dates, at these times, pretty please thank you much ….. poor chap, I think there was steam coming from his various screens and keyboards and he went through trying to book the people ticket and the assisted travel service and each time there was one that would not comply.   [what you thought the wheelchair booking system was linked to the ticket booking system? You mad mad mad fool!! Of course not, what idiot would do something like that].  Eventually as the tour available dates were being crossed out one by one, there was one that fit ….. BOOK IT, NOW!!

Wing confirmation email to HofP for specific date, specific timed tour, for definite, in proper pen – we are coming!! Thankfully the spaces were still available [often they are booked more than six months in advance – I know, who knew, not their web site].

Next the London Eye River Cruise booking …. copious amounts of reading online as to their preferred procedure.  Of course they don’t answer the important questions, so I wing an email to them and the reply answers one of the three questions but not the other two, so return email with two questions and one more is answered. *sigh*  Right, sort of sorted, book tickets online, then after paying the non-refundable ticket price, telephone their customer service centre and book the wheelchair space. Err, hello, I don’t want to buy a ticket and then hope the wheelchair space is available, I want to make sure it is available then book and then confirm.  Am I the only one who sees this issue?  After eventually finding the river cruise times and they eventually confirming that the time is not the boarding time but heading off time so be there 30 minutes earlier to get the necessary things done at the ticket office [they don’t mention that on the web site – every trip must leave late as it never says boarding 10 minutes before time – again am I the only one who sees the problem?].  I managed to get an email saying that the wheelchair space was currently available on these times, and so I went ahead and booked our tickets and emailed back with my order number and confirmation of needing that wheelchair space.  Email reply – we cannot take bookings via email please call our customer service line at 15p per minute.

*desk-head-bang*

I telephone them, an automated please press 1-2-3 goes through all the Eye options and never mentions anything about the river cruises – of course there is no option to “press to speak to a human because we forgot reasons people may be calling us at vastly inflated prices” …. I pressed a key and waited, waited, waited, spoke to a person and I explained river cruise, this date, this time, wheelchair space please …. of course the option I chose was the wrong one I needed the “make a booking” line not the “alter existing booking” line *rolleyes*.  I waited as I was transferred, waited and waited, then finally a human spoke and I repeated my request and got the obligatory “please hold while I see to that for you” which is code for ‘crap we did this in training I think now where are my notes, [nudge person next to you] do you know how to book in wheelchairs, etc etc etc’.

Anyway, wheelchair space booked, the confirmation email never arrived as I am not sure the person spelt my email address correctly [which is already on my existing booking, which she could not access because she only does new bookings, but existing bookings cannot book wheelchair spaces] which I spelt out three times.

Hey ho! We will see if the day rides smoothly or not .. it better!

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in General, Life

 

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Breezy Time At Maritime Festival

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It was the annual maritime festival at the historic quay in town this weekend. Sadly the weather did not wish to comply, it was rather breezy and there was that drizzle that slowly soaks coats but not the ground.  This year there were only two sailing vessels in port, the Lord Nelson and the Gotenborg.

Recently a local offshore company had gone into ouquidation and for weeks three large off shore vessels had been moored along the quay where visiting ships would be moored. Whilst two had been moved, one was still slap bang in the middle, blighting the views somewhat. There were other gaps so people could watch the jet ski display team, which was fine for the two fifteen minutes they displayed, otherwise it looked like vessels had not turned up.

The local RNLI vessel was there (why are our vessels always given unpronounceable names), along with the one from the neighbouring station (which is not RNLI funded, there’s a light hearted rivalry between the two).  Strong presence of the Royal Navy, The Army, as well as the Coastguard.

It’s always a fun occasion to meet friendly dogs, including a 12 week old border collie pup who was as snugly as a bear.

As we approached the Lord Nelson there was a lump in my throat, I’d go tomorrow if I could, but my strength means it is now beyond me. I was struck by how long it has been since I sailed (2004) and specifically on her (2000)., I no longer know the crew, no longer involved with the local supports, it feels a little like she has sailed from me. Terrific memoriesi I will always treasure.

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Posted by on September 6, 2015 in General

 

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Rain Didn’t Stop Play

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We were all set, it was going to be a good bank holiday.  Big Sis, her BFF and I were going to thrash the 2p machines, sit outside and watch the horses and holiday makers pass by, meet the clan [including four-foot-ninja and his sister] for lunch by the beach, enjoy the fresh air the last hoorah of summer before school, winter, darkness and the need for coats arrived.

Bloody damnable fudging weather!!!  Why does the weatherman always get the weather correct on a holiday weekend and wrong the rest of the time?? Why do these isolated showers that never appear in July or BBQ night decide to band together and swamp us on the last bank holiday before christmas??  Tis a conspiracy of the fates, with some assistance from Major Murphy and Superintendent Sod!

However, we are tough stuff, no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing ….. we three entrapped females donned coats and BFF her brolly and we made a dash for it. Applied true holiday-maker spirit and threw caution to the onshore breeze and went for it.  Armed with lose change we perused our machines with true hustler fashion “Dodgy top shelf [means they pile up easily]”, “too far back”, “got it”.  We discuss whether it is a single job or a double onslaught [two people, one each side at the same time].

As the rain had done its best to become a drizzle we made way to our favoured cafe for a spot of lunch.  Okay so you have to wait for it to be cooked, but it is proper pukka grub, not plastic catering and the prices are very very reasonable for a beachfront establishment.  Fortified with cheese burger, chips and a coffee.  Round two.

By now there were more people about, those determined to go somewhere and so something, or the bedraggled holiday makers [they’re the ones in flip flops or sandals, shorts or leggings and a coat, you can always tell], more stuff had moved as players had tried and given up.  We were in … 2p’s cascading left,right and centre, made shouts as the treasured item of junk teetered on the edge defying physic laws.

We departed with a carrier bag full of crap, and some non-crap items, more tickets and tokens to use next time and a feeling of triumph as we had beaten the rain [which had gone somewhere else].  My hands were black and the seaside odour of greasy foods and dampness evaded and I was shattered!

Top prize of the day was a cube money box, the type with a bung in the bottom, a good three inches square, complete with a pounds worth of 2p’s inside.  Second prize was the me-to-you teddy with clock [he was heavy!].  Third prize was a forgotten 2p left in a tray that was absently shove in a slot and 50 prize tickets spewed out!

Anyone need a key ring, we’ve got about 10, to add to our other 30 or 40 ish few.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2015 in General

 

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The Grand Expedition!

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After the success of the experimental expedition, the grand plan was hatched, we would go further for longer, and thus last Monday, Big Sis, her BFF and I loaded up the car with car seat, spider man back pack and the four-foot ninja and headed to the seaside.  Our first intended destination the jolly children amusement park that we remembered from our youth [and it had not changed either].

Ninja dutifully holding BFF’s hand, or the arm of my wheelchair as we crossed the roads [always saying “Thank you Mr Car” and waving when cars stopped – too cute and lovely that drivers waved back] we headed past the amusement arcades, the ice-cream/candy stalls, the mini golf games to the hustle, bells and whistles of the bustling area beside one of the piers. Tokens were purchased and soon Ninja with BFF or Big Sis were whisked off on the snails, spooky roller coaster, pirate ship [he flew solo on that one], racing cars, spinning tops, and the story land – he also biffed the heads of a few minions.

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Tummy was suggesting it was time for some lunch and feet were suggesting it was time for a sit down but not before a quick look on the beach and a simply-must sight …. the donkeys.

GTYdonkey  Troy was the mighty steeds name and for a first time rider the Ninja sat up-right and every now and then as they patiently waited he stroked Troy’s soft fur, remarking how soft he was.  They did their walk down the beach and back, I think Troy was on auto pilot and not in anyway phased by the bravery of his novice rider.

After lunch a walk along the pier.  I always, always, had a nervous tummy as a little one walking along piers, I think it is the gaps between the boards the sense that wood rots and gives way [thank you cowboy films] and I am sure when I was young the water was further up the pier and it roared more.  One thing that has not changed when you get to the end is the howling gale!  Low and behold a few more rides and Ninja was soon paddling this log along the canal and then onto the motor train.

GTYcanoe  Now I will remark that if his Dad and Granddad were with us, I would not remain dry, somehow when there is a water related activity and I am nowhere near it, i get wet – I am happy to report that that genetic trait has not been passed down.

GTYphoto  What is the attraction of sticking your head through a hole, never got it myself.

We meandered along the prom, waving at the horse and carriages, having those important discussions that four year olds have [don’t ask I am still waiting for my language app to include Ninja].  Some 2p’s hastily inserted into machines but Captain American and Spiderman would not oblige and fall, hmph.  Walking along further, noticing things and mooching looking in the occasional souvenir/toy shops, a dracula minion was seen and Big Sis fell in lub and as all Nan’s do used Ninja as an excuse to get *rolleyes*.  When we took a five minute rest, Ninja taught Dracula and me the merits and rules of high five followed by some skin [I am only a beginner at puppetry but Ninja seemed convinced Dracula had it], while Big Sis got the ice-creams and BFF got her donuts. Time for one of those sneaky adult tricks, there were a couple of rubbish bins near by and rather than wait and take everything in one go, Ninja merrily trotted back and forth with each separate piece, haha, kept him busy and us seated.

Then he does something so irresistibly cute and sweet you cannot say no to the little rogue.  As I said in a previous post the purpose of the day is for him to have some him time now that his little sister has arrived, so we were not talking about her and letting him lead the conversation.  After sitting there looking across the broad pavement at a shop he gets his thinking expression on and in a sweet voice says “Can we get a dolly for Daisy”, bless him, he was thinking of his sister.  Armed with my purse, Big Sis and Ninja went and looked at the cuddles and he decided which one she would like and carefully brought it back in its bag and made sure it was carefully put in the bag hanging from the back of my wheelchair.  [Apparently when he got home it immediately came out the bag and she was show it]

At the far end of the promenade is the big amusement park, but these rides were bigger and faster. However there was the seaside favourite ‘hook a duck’, which he did and decided on a fishing game for his bath or paddling pool. BFF hooked one to and decided on the goldfish in a tank.  Poor fishy he had a rather bumpy journey as we made our way back along the prom [beach side this time], I imagine he was glad of his water being still while Ninja had twenty minutes on the bouncy castles.  I have no idea what he made of watching us eat KFC, and his view of the other 2p machines is anyones guess.  He survived the car journey and is now safely ensconced in BFF’s kitchen.

After a little over eight hours of it, Ninja was slowing down and he was returned to the care and responsibility of his parents.  I think his Dad missed him, as almost before Big Sis had turned off the engine he was there. I keep meaning to message his parents and find out whether he slept well that night. I know I did, but boy my hips and lower back did not like removing the next day.

All good fun as they say – rumour has it, to be repeated next year – oh crikey!

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2015 in Life, people

 

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