U is for Underground
I was going to do L is for London back when the A to Z challenge reached L but then I figured I didn’t have anything for U so I’d do this instead.
I love London. I seem to go every couple of months and that’s gotten much more frequent over the last few years. So far this year I went to London in January (to see Cirque du Soleil) and I went twice in March – for one day to go up The Shard (when we also ended up going on the Cable Car too) and then overnight a few days later to go to the Simon and Schuster blogging event.
There are many reasons why I love London and I can’t list them all. It isn’t a complete love story because I do get very annoyed when I’m there sometimes by lack of dropped kerbs in some places and people everywhere and the like but I enjoy it a lot.
And this probably sounds really weird if you don’t have a physical disability but one of the major reasons why I love it is The Tube (underground). I had never really gone on the Tube until I was 30. And by never really I mean once only. I’d always assumed it wasn’t going to be possible as a wheelchair user.
Then came the summer of 2012 and the Olympics and the paralympics and in a very short period of time I went from being scared of the tube to using it with someone with me to using it confidently by myself.
It’s still tricky because huge parts of the network aren’t accessible in some cases those that are don’t work for me (London Paddington I’m looking at you). And it relies on lifts working and on knowledge of things like when I go to Green Park I have to board at the back of the train for level access and when I go to Kings Cross there’s another specific part of the train I have to board because those stations have raised platform humps and if you aren’t in the right part it’s not accessible.
But it’s brilliant and it’s really opened up London to me and given me an independence I didn’t think possible.,
I travel all the time my mainline trains and that works really well too. But for those I have to book assistance in advance. It’s not a problem because I pretty much always know in advance and I’ve gotten to know the guys working at my three most common stations and we’ve gotten a bit friendly over the years and I have a laugh with some of them. But it’s not great at spur of the moment independence.
And even though I’ve been using the tubes for three years now it still slightly blows my mind when I drive my chair onto a train without help and without even having to let someone else know I’m travelling. It’s given me a whole new level of independence and that’s a big part of the reason why I love London.