>Snapshots of a Holiday: Passion on The Bridge

>I was in the Fwd Port watch this time around and my watch leader was a guy called Bill who is probably late 60’s or in his 70’s. He’s sailed something like 12 times since 2001 (with JST I mean) and has done 21,000 nautical miles. His goal is 25,000 which is the equivalent of once round the world. For comparison, I started a RYA log book with this journey and have sailed 450 nautical miles. A nautical mile is 1.1 miles over land. Something to do with the curvature of the Earth.

Bill’s a brilliant watch leader and a great guy. Always making sure that we were OK, that we knew what was happening, that we understood the whys and wherefores if at all possible. Once he figured out I wouldn’t admit to being cold unless asked for fear of missing out, checking if I was cold at least once an hour. I found him much easier to talk to and work with than my previous watch leader. Possibly that’s an age thing (my previous watch leader is younger than me and I do tend to find there is a big difference between most late teenagers and people around my age) but more than likely it’s experience.

He loves to sail and gets dead excited about choppy seas and rough weather, putting up the sails and catching the wind. It’s really fun and contagious when he gets excited. I can’t really describe it, it’s just something you have to see and can’t help smiling at and joining in. At times I found the trip very emotionally challenging and draining and Bill was able to give me a lot of support and encouragement without really needing to do much or make it obvious. A very good sign of a great watch leader.

One day the ship was really heeled over to one side – the water was lapping over the starboard portholes below deck every so often like a washing machine full of laundry. And it was decreed that no wheelies (wheelchair users) were to go on watch after midnight. That was for safety reasons.

Next morning at breakfast I’m working on a toast and bacon sarnie and Bill comes over to greet me with a hug, a how are you today and to tell me he missed me on watch the night before. A bit later we’re on deck and John the captain wanders over and asks me if I’d recovered from my rather spectacular seasickness. And someone ruffled my hair, put their arm around me and gave me a squeeze. Neither John or Bill would admit who it was but I have my suspicions.

That sort of set the tone for the rest of the trip. I got hugs from or gave hugs to various members of the voyage crew at different points but I don’t think many days went past when I didn’t get a hug from Bill.

On the Sunday we got to Oban about lunchtime so we could have a look around before we left the ship early on the Monday (I got the 08:13 train to Glasgow) and one of the voyage crew who had a son living in Oban left the ship then.

Sarah (my buddy) and I arrived back at the ship just as he was leaving and thankfully got to say goodbye and how great it had been sailing together and have a goodbye hug with him. Everyone was feeling a bit sad and sentimental at that time about the trip coming to an end and I was crying. Denis left and we got me up the gangplank onto the bridge.

It was a bit chilly and Bill and I had a hug for comfort. He then stayed behind me holding me to warm me up a bit. Steve the second mate of the ship just walks past us at that point in time looks at us and goes “ooooh passion on the bridge.” and my tears soon gave way to laughter once again.

And that just about sums it all up.

Tough times and sad times, affection, happiness and laughter. All in all a good time and one I’m glad I didn’t miss.

>Snapshots of a Holiday: An interesting take on Wheelchair Access

>So I got to my holiday on the Saturday after a long train journey. It was mid afternoon, I was tired and just about DONE. Traveling to Liverpool alone and then onto the hotel was slightly more stressful than I had anticipated and so the spoon draw got emptied faster than planned.

And I’d heard that their was wheelchair access only through a side door. To the hotel I was to stay in Saturday night, I mean. I heard that only after I booked and was not best impressed as you might imagine. I gave them a ring to confirm this story with them the Monday before I traveled. I was told by “Hayley” that they had full access and her answer to my specific question about the location of the access was that it was through the main entrance.

So I arrive at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool (which, btw, is a lousy, tacky, overpriced place and best avoided). And the main entrance has a bucket load of steps with no sign of anything even remotely resembling wheelchair access or indicating where such a thing might be found. Luckily the taxi driver I had went in and found out where to go. He drops me outside this side door and I can see a member of hotel staff trying about five different keys and dropping them and getting pretty damn flustered trying to unlock and open the door. Finally he gets it open and tells me that he “doesn’t do that often.” Thus inspiring me with confidence.

Then he leaves me for a few minutes which turn into about ten. Comes back and tells me the platform lift isn’t working so we have to go another way. Wanders off to find some more keys. Takes me through one of the restaurants and then THROUGH THE KITCHEN down into the skanky dark damp service area under the hotel. Up onto one of the bedroom floors, miles on that floor and then into a customer lift and to reception. Checks me in and then starts taking me to my room.

They didn’t give me an adapted room which was fine. I had told them I use a chair but that as it was for one night if the adapted room wasn’t available it would be ok. But, even if an adapted room wasn’t available, they knew I use a chair and still put me as far as is humanly possible from the lift on the top floor. Have they not heard of common sense?! So I trail miles from the lift and arrive to realise he gave me the wrong key. Off he wanders to get it and I’m left quietly seething but thankful I’d insisted on his coming to carry my bag.

Finally make it into the room and potter about for a bit. Then I decide it’s time for a late lunch so I wander to reception wait a while for attention and ask how I get into the coffee shop for a snack. The girl didn’t know and went to find out. On her return she tells me there is no access but they’ll send me room service for free, what do I want? I say that I’ll need to see the menu to choose from and she huffs off to get one. Place my order and return to the room.

Repeat as required.

Between leaving the hotel twice to wander around, checking in and checking out and going to and from breakfast in the main restaurant, I got to go through the hotel kitchens EIGHT TIMES. And at one point in time it took 30 minutes for me to get out of the hotel. Not to mention the fact that no one told anyone else about the platform lift meaning everytime I wanted to go somewhere they insisted on trying it first.

And that, my friends, is what scousers consider wheelchair access. But I don’t.

>Local Food Heroes

>I’m home. and I’m knackered. and I’ll update properly tomorrow. But I wanted to post quickly to ask a favour of all of you.

As you may or may not know JST who I sailed with is a charity. And they have amazing staff. Including, on Tenacious, Graham the cook. He’s a great guy and an amazing cook. 3 meals a day for 40+ people on a ship that can at times be very bumpy and even tilted way over to one side at times. Not to mention cakes and biscuits for the twice daily smoko or coffee break. Scrummy rock buns and shortbread and chocolate muffins that often arrive still warm and crumble and melt deliciously in your mouth. And the beautifully iced birthday cake made specially for a member of our voyage crew who celebrated her birthday during our trip. I really enjoyed my day on mess duty laying the tables and prepping veg for him but as for the cooking – I couldn’t do it, big respect to him for being able to.

Well, Graham has been nominated for a Local Food Hero award from UKTV Food. And if he wins JST will get £40K which they desperately need. Plus anyone who makes such lovely food in such quantities (I have definitely gained weight!) in tough circumstances is a true food hero.

So PLEASE go Vote for Him. You have to register but it takes about a minute and it’s free. If that link doesn’t work for whatever reason you need to go to www.uktvfood.co.uk click on the local food hero bit and look for SV Tenacious. And PLEASE go do it now because I think there is only a day or so left until voting for the first round ends and some nominees are disqualified.

>Time to Travel!

>I go on holiday later today! Can’t wait. Do need to go to bed though. I’m leaving the house in nine and a half hours. Still got a fair bit to do as well. Here’s hoping for some sleep on the train!

A brief itinerary

tomorrow: Liverpool
Sunday and all of next week: JST voyage on Tenacious, TNS193
Monday of the week after: disembark in Oban, travel to Glasgow
Weds 27th: Fly to Luton at 6pm ish, Dad picks me up to come home.

If you go to the JST Website there is an ocean tracker link and there is also a blog where updates from the ships are posted a few times a week. I helped to write an entry last year when I went on the Nelson. The link is in the bottom right hand corner – “ships updates” – unfortunately I can’t give a direct link.

Unless my sister posts here this is the last update for 11 days because I have officially

>Let battle commence

>Social Services are going to be stopping my support from them as I no longer meet the criteria. This all happened at a supposed “review” at the end of April.

And I got a letter from my GP and wrote to my social worker with a copy of this stating that 1) I wanted the decision looked at again 2) I felt the report didn’t show the full picture, particularly when it came to mental health issues – which my GP supported in her letter – and 3) stated in closing the letter that I looked forward to discussing this matter with her, in person, at a reassessment. I stuck closely to those three points but did provide some examples.

The reply came today. And it came from another social worker as mine has now retired. So I’ve never met this new one. She’s basically written what could be considered a reply but that’s too strong a term. It is, in fact, a letter designed to get me to shut up and accept the decision, whilst being thinly disguised as a reply. I’d think it quite clever if it wasn’t for the fact that as a tactic it sickens me and I consider it morally wrong.

She reiterates several things that my now ex-social worker stated in her report. She thanks me for “raising my concerns.” and tells me she is now dealing with “this matter”. All to be expected.

But then she tells me that I shouldn’t base the security of my mental health on services which might not always be available to me. And a load of other “your depression is getting better” false platitudes. The review took this into account I am told.

Then we get to the worst part I need to understand that as a busy and successful individual changes will come in my life, not all will be positive or welcome, and I must learn to deal with these changes. Not to mention the part where it is basically implied that depression is no big deal and that I just need to keep busy.

If I really want care I can use my DLA, it’s for the additional costs of being disabled.

Hmm… 1 hours support is about £14, DLA middle rate care is £40/week. I have 4hours of support. You do the maths. That doesn’t cover the costs of additional washing or heating or taxis because I can’t drive which apart from my paying a small contribution to the cost of my support was what I thought it was for!

We end with the comment my my ex-SW considered this a very positive move for me and the new one (henceforth to be known as that bitch) hopes her letter will have helped me to understand and accept it more.

So basically, I’m still not going to have support. The points in my letter were ignored and she is encouraging something of a “blame, shame and guilt culture” about depression. She probably also sat there writing it thinking she was wasting her time and sighing.

The other huge point is that she states in the letter I agreed that last year was the last one I would have support for – I WASN’T TOLD THAT! That interests me in that it’s at least the second time that an official agency has tried to stop a complaint from me based on their insisting on having told me something they hadn’t. Previously they knew damn well I wasn’t told and that if I had been told I would have no grounds for complaint – same as now. I proved it last time and I intend to do my damndest to prove that now.

Needless to say, she did waste her time. Because this doesn’t end here.

I’m off on holiday at the weekend. And then… get ready Bitch because battle commences at the beginning of July.

>Five

>I lost another pound this week which makes me smiley :o) Particularly as other than swimming on Friday (which was a great work out this week) I’ve not exercised. That’s something that will come back officially in July BUT as I’m taking my K (manual chair) on holiday there will be loads of accidental exercise while I’m away

So I’m at 23lb lost since February. Which puts me at the exact weight I told JST I was (for safety reasons they need a rough idea of the weight of all wheelchair users) – considering I was somewhat economical with the truth of the numbers when they asked (by half a stone) I am very glad to actually be at this point!

And I found my tape measure again – since I took measurements on the 1st of January I have lost five inches off of my waist. It’s no wonder I needed smaller clothes! I haven’t checked the rest yet as I’ve not had time but I will before I go away.

Several people have commented that I’m looking thinner this last week too

I won’t be home for the next two Tuesday weigh ins for the May Day Challenge – so the next update for that will be week eight.

>Talk Tomorrow

>I’m doing another talk to the Rotary Club tomorrow. About the trip they sponsored me on last summer with JST.

I did have plans to write a lot here about that but the words don’t seem to want to come and I’ve been sat here with this screen minimised thinking (and playing chainz 2) for twenty minutes or likely more.

It does feel like that trip was a lifetime ago to be honest… and my focus is more on the one that is to begin on Saturday. But it’s always nice to look back in order to look forward.

This talk is another interesting to me thing – I used to hate speaking at engagements like this but now I love it and I’m looking forward to it. Another way in which I have changed, I have grown. And one I could never have anticipated coming too. I am still a bit nervous but it doesn’t scare me and make me shake and feel sick. Before it would have – in fact it likely would have made me physically sick. Instead they told me that I’ve got a half an hour slot as guest speaker and I just said OK then that’s fine, 20 minutes to talk and ten for questions.

It makes me wonder where I will be and who I will be in another years time.

>Now I know my ABC’s

>Another meme, Becki tagged me for this one.

A- Attached or Single? Single and very very happy like that. No plans to change that whatsoever

B- Best Friend: I am not a fan of the concept of a “best friend” because it just ends up being stressful when you say my best friend is so and so and then someone else kicks off and informs that they are your best friend and you are wrong. Yes, I am talking from experience here! I will just say I have loads of acquaintances and some very close, very wonderful friends both online and IRL. And different friends are good for different things. That’s the way I like it and I’m very happy.

C- Cake or Pie: Cake but without icing!

D- Drink of Choice: coke

E- Essential Item: my manual chair

F- Favourite Color: Purple.

G- Gummi Bears or Worms? Neither.

H- Hometown: a little town, Oxfordshie, UK

I- Indulgence: Having my hair washed for me

J- January or February: January, time for a new year and a new start

K- Kids: None.

L- Life is incomplete without: my wheelchair.

M- Marriage Date: I don’t think I believe in marriage

N- Number of Siblings: Two – Ben aged 21 and Sophie aged 19

O- Oranges or Apples? If we’re talking the fruit than neither. If we’re talking the juice than either but I prefer orange

P- Phobias/Fears: Lots of stuff but getting over a lot of them.

Q- Favourite Quote: “As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn’t supposed to ever let you down probably will. You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it’s harder every time. You’ll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken. You’ll fight with your best friend. You’ll blame a new love for things an old one did. You’ll cry because time is passing too fast, and you’ll eventually lose someone you love. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you’ve never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you’ll never get back. Don’t be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.” ~Author Unknown.

R- Reasons to smile: Good books, people who get it and summers afternoon naps

S- Season: Spring, getting warmer but not too hot..

T- Tag Three: Funky Mango, Jacqui and Kathryn

U- Unknown Fact About Me: I cannot stand ice cream.

V – Vegetarian or Oppressor of Animals? Meat all the way

W- Worst Habit: Panicing and worrying about everything even before I know that I’ve got anything to panic or worry about.

X – X-rays or Ultrasounds? X-rays, had loads and I can’t actually remember ever having a scan! I’m sure I must have tho.

Y- Your Favorite Foods: Lately it’s been chicken stir fry.

Z- Zodiac: Capricorn

>Power of Three

>Funky Mango tagged me for the following survey

The rules are simple. There are 9 questions (3 to the power of 2), each of which has 3 answers, to give a total of 27, or 3 to the power of 3. The whole point is that the questions are somewhere between eclectic, banal and downright bizarre, so that you can answer completely truthfully without actually giving much away. Just put down the first three answers that come to mind if you can’t work out the “most appropriate” three.

Objects Within One Metre Of You

several empty drinks bottles
Hairbrush
A copy of Mr Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll

First Names of People You Sat Next To At School

James
Lucy
Naomi

TV Programmes You Won’t Watch

Big Brother
Eastenders
Coronation Street

Favourite Trivial Pursuit Categories

History
Art & Literature
Music

Superpowers You’d Like To Have

Flying
Teleportation
Super Strength

Newspapers, Magazines or Periodicals Read Regularly

Disability Now
Local newspaper
Healthy magazine (from Holland and Barratt)

Songs You Dislike

Westlife – Uptown Girl
Axel F – Crazy Frog
Ray Quinn – pretty much every song he’s ever done.

Blog Posts of Your Own That You’d Recommend.
Respect for All
My New Set of Wheels with an added giggle factor
It doesn’t have me

People You’d Like To See Answer These Same Stupid Questions
Shiloh
Sophie
Sarah