green grass, boats in the boat park, dark blue stormy sky and the shadows of me and the friends I was standing with when I took this.
Setting sun over the water with boats in silhouette
A sillouette of seven geese in a row.
I couldn’t believe how long they sat there. I was sure at least one would have gone by the time Dad passed me my bag and I got my phone out.
On Saturday 25th May 2013 my brother Ben married his partner of ten years Geri. I won’t make the standard joke/comment about their names but feel free to if you wish. Here are a few photos of the wonderful day we had. The ones marked Facebook come from my sister’s profile and hopefully she doesn’t mind!
In terms of visual description I’ll put a bit by each photo but in general:
The wedding took place in a large and very lovely converted barn. I’d call it stylishly rustic. It had lovely gardens at the front and the back. The weather was absolutely horrendous the day before, properly storming cold and gray. That day was glorious. Bright, sunny and warm but not too hot. Perfect in fact.
The bride wore a gorgeous white dress with a long train and a bit of sparkle.
All of the men in the wedding party wore three piece suits with cravats. Ben, his best man and Geri’s grandad (who gave her away) had purple cravats. My dad and the ushers had silver ones.
My sister (Sophie), Geri’s sister and two of her friends were bridesmaids. All of them have long hair which they wore half up and down. The dresses were strapless, long and a dark almost midnight purple.
My mum wore a gray dress and jacket with a dusky rose fascinator/hat. I call it a fascinator because it’s on a hairband. She calls it a hat and looking at the pics she’s probably right.
I used my powerchair for the day. I wore a red dress which was originally was ankle length but my friend took up by six inches for me as it was too long for my chair. My dress is sleeveless and I had a black cropped shrug over it for some of the day. I made myself a black and silver scarf (knitted using Sirdar Firefly) and had that on for part of the evening. My shoes were black Skechers (this is me we’re talking about) and I had a black clutch. My hair was twisted and a little bit spiked up with five tiny plaits in the front. I had a red fascinator with a flower on it and my 3e love wheelchair heart necklace on. I wore very red lipstick and nails.
signing the register
One of my goals for this year is to complete Project 365. One photo a day, everyday, for a year. Or at least to give it a really good go. It’s something I started doing at the beginning of last year but gave up on by the 4th or thereabouts because most of my photos were on my phone which went missing and I lost them all. So this year I’m trying it again.
Here are my first week and photos
I took this on my way back from the supermarket. I wanted to take something to show how blue the sky was because it felt like it hadn’t been nice like that for ages. And then I realised that on 1st January 2014 I wouldn’t have that sight. The power station is due to cease generating this year and then be knocked down. A lot of people think it blights the landscape and it probably does BUT it was also an integral part of my childhood. In part because my Dad worked there for many years but also because you can see it for many miles. When we would be coming back from holiday we’d watch out for it and want to be the first to call out “I can see the chimney pots.” The saying was always that we weren’t home until we saw them. It might seem strange but I think I will miss seeing it in the distance.
This is the control and charger lead for my powerchair, whilst my chair was charging. The charger wire are showing a little bit. I took this because I wanted to send it to someone but as I’m writing this I’ve just realised I never did send it. Oops.
The Christmas tree in town, lit up. Mostly because I didn’t expect it to be there still and it is kinda pretty.
Last night’s dinner. Pancetta and roasted veg (mushrooms, potatoes, carrots and peppers) cooked in olive oil and garlic. Very yummy. I use frozen veg and small new potatoes that don’t need prepping. Plus, pancetta that comes ready cubed and garlic granules. Out of the packet, into the oven tray and onto the plate. Easy.
CITV (children’s ITV) turned 30 this week. To celebrate they’re having an Old Skool weekend and showing programmes that span the whole period – mostly old shows that aren’t on any more or older episodes of current shows (I think). I watched a bit. I didn’t make a particular effort and when I looked back at the listings I missed several of my favourites but it was cool to see stuff like Funhouse again. Fraggle Rock was something I really wanted to see so I took this picture of my TV with the Fraggle Rock ident on the screen. I have to say it was a little disappointing (but I was kinda distracted at that point) but I still freaking love the theme tune!
>This past weekend was the Challenger English Championships 2011. And as it was held at Oxford which is my “home” sailing club I was able to go.
I went up Friday to help get things ready but it ended up with my Dad helping out and me sitting in the club house chatting to other sailors who I only see at these regattas. One of them gave me some really useful tips on racing skills so that was good and cleared up something I’d been confused about. Also, gossip and catching up is always good.
Saturday started with the traditional pre-regatta bacon and sausage sarnie. After the briefing I was told it was suitable weather for me to go out (the fleet was going but it’s up to the individual helm whether they go and the weather wasn’t great) so got ready. We got me ready and on the water but unfortunately didn’t get far (we were only on the water about 2 minutes) when one of the safety crews came over and having already had to deal with two broken boats due to conditions told me that it wasn’t suitable for me and I should go in. As that was someone who is knowledgable about the type of boat I sail and knows my limits, my buddy and I basically went “if he says we go in, we go in.” Conditions had changed and those of us sailing with a buddy wouldn’t manage in what they’d got too. Challengers are great because you can sail single handed or with someone on the side if you need it but technically they aren’t designed to have the buddy so that was it. I sail alone most weeks but in the regattas take a buddy for support and confidence.
Sadly the conditions hadn’t improved after lunch so I didn’t get out then either. I did enjoy my traditional regatta lunch of sausage chips and beans though and spent a pleasant afternoon chatting to people, reading and going for what for me is a long wheel. I didn’t enjoy the bit when I was 2 minutes away from being back inside and there was torrential rain leading to me being a bit soggy! When I later heard that during that storm the wind had gusted up to 37 MPH I was exceedingly glad I’d stayed on dry land. More than glad.
I’d been told that there was more hope I’d be able to get out but that it was still going to be gusty so it wasn’t guaranteed. But it all worked out!
Two races in the morning back to back and I managed to do both of those. That’s only the third time I’ve managed to do that. I wasn’t in the best position in the boat but it all worked out. We seemed to manage the course really well. As always I got lapped by the single sailors but I seemed to be much nearer the end of the course when they were half way round their next lap so that was better.
Following another plate of the traditional sausage chips and beans and a change of clothes it was back on the water for the afternoon. We managed to get me in a much better position in the boat and fix the sail so it wasn’t as flappy. Things seemed much improved all round. The first race went well and I really enjoyed it.
I was tired though and kept having short bursts of clonus which due to the position my ankle was in were painful (unusual as clonus doesn’t usually hurt but my ankle was in a v.weird position for me.). I really wanted to try the 4th race but on grounds of being able to transfer and move the next day and recognising that this is my first year where I can physically do 3 races a day I decided discretion was the better part of valour.
I was a little bit worried by doing so I’d messed up my position in the rankings. And it was close but I beat my next closest opponent by 1 point and came first in the Bronze Fleet. Meaning that by some fluke I am the Challenger Class Association’s Bronze Fleet English Champion 2011. Not something I could have predicted but I’m really pleased and proud.
This is the trophy that the champion wins every year and then gets passed on the next year. It’s made of wood and has a barometer in the middle of it with various brass plaques on it. At the top is the logo of the Challenger Class Association and at the bottom it says what the trophy is. The other plaques have people’s names on, their home sailing club and when they one. I’ll need to get myself one of those added. It’s a bit of a funny shape and I’m wondering if that’s because it’s supposed to look like a sail. I might ask.
This is the trophy that I get to keep. It’s blue and originally I thought it was made of perspex but actually I now think it’s glass. It has a medal engraved on it and in the middle of that is a silver inlay with the logo of Oxford Sailing Club. Underneath is a bronze plaque, on the left of that it says 1st and then next to it it says Challenger Bronze Farmoor 2011 over 4 lines.
>I spent last weekend (Friday – Monday) at Center Parcs, Longleat Forest. I’ve been to Center Parcs loads of times but it had been about 12 years since I last went to Longleat. Center Parcs are great at access. They don’t get it all right and there were some very obvious frustrations and places where I thought they could do better. They provide some very detailed accessibility information (in a series of PDFs) on their website and I thought I would blog (with photos) about how I found it. I’m splitting this into more than one entry for length.
We stayed in a 2 bedroom “Comfort Plus” villa. This is where the first problem came into being. We booked a 2 bedroom villa as 2 of us were going to go. When we got given our villa number we looked on the accessibility statement and saw it was 3 bedroom. So we assumed it was a free upgrade, because these things happen when you’re disabled! And my friend called Center Parcs and added her mum to our booking. We arrived to find our villa was, indeed, a two bedroom villa. I spoke to two different people about this. One of them (on the phone) blatantly didn’t believe what I was saying but the other (in person) said that some of the villas had originally been unadapted and had bedrooms taken out to make adapted bathrooms and that was what had happened here and they’d missed it on the website. I’m not convinced I believed them mostly because I thought the location of the adapted bathroom would have been strange for a bedroom! It wasn’t a problem for us, luckily, because as we’d booked a 2 bedroom villa what we had was all we were entitled too. I was assured, however, that they will fix the mistake on the website.
Outside of the adapted villas there is a disabled parking space and you get a lovely neon orange sign to go with your blue badge so you can keep your car onsite. So that along with the ID sticker they give everyone makes for a positively colourful dashboard. Normally people must move their cars to the car park, the only exceptions being people staying in adapted villas and anyone staying in an unadapted villa where the driver is the disabled person (this did cause some confusion when we first arrived as the person checking us in didn’t realise that if your in an adapted villa it doesn’t matter who the disabled person is or who the driver is). Unfortunately one of the lights outside our villa was broken so there was a mobile lighting gantry and it had been put in the disabled space. A source of much amusement when I called security and told them and asked them to move it. At that time it wasn’t working anyway. So the tech guys came and fixed the light and didn’t move it. Eventually it was decided it couldn’t be moved as light was more important but said basically find a spot and leave it, we know. Everyone was very apologetic about it and they really kept us informed.
The adapted villas have a regular bathroom and an adapted one. This was part of the reason I wasn’t convinced the villa had ever been “normal”, the regular bathroom didn’t have a loo! I don’t think I could have got my chair in the regular bathroom, it was tiny.
Shower set up. Those arm rests attached to the seat (one on which is covered by my flannel) are all there were for grab rails by the shower. The position of the seat along the wall was adjustable but if you could adjust the height of it we couldn’t figure it out! I can’t stand up straight but we think I’m around five foot three, five foot four height wise and my feet couldn’t touch the ground on that seat.
Shelf thing on the right of the shower seat as you sat on it. Useful for putting stuff on and also moveable I think.
Sink set up. The position and I think height were adjustable which led to some middle of the night amusement when people were half asleep and forgot it moved (I think you should be able to adjust it so it only moves when you want it to but it wasn’t set like that). The area was well lit with a light each side of the mirror. Unfortunately the mirror was a little bit too high for me in my wheelchair. I think you can just see the top of my head in this photo. Good job I didn’t want to do my make up whilst we were away! I’d have liked one of the shelf things like in the shower by the sink for putting my toothbrush etc on.
The loo. One drop down grab rail each side, height adjustable. Given the way they were on the wall they were in their lowest position here.
Overall this was a very functional bathroom and I managed well with it. Probably one of the better adapted bathrooms I’ve seen in a holiday place and with loads of space. The loo and sink are next to each other and then there is a big space before the shower meaning you have lots of room to turn, manoeuvre and for carers to assist.. It was clean, the door was a sliding one so didn’t take up space (although it was heavy and didn’t have a lock). There was a red cord but it was tied up. The alarm only sounded within the villa however (which is fine in my opinion) so I left it tied up on the grounds I could shout if I needed something. I would have liked a few more grab rails, especially in the shower area as the lack of them meant I needed help transferring in and out of the shower when I don’t normally. It was lacking a privacy curtain but what disabled bathroom isn’t?! My only tiny complaint I’ve not covered is the fact there were complimentary toiletries in the regular bathroom but not in the adapted one. Crips like freebies too!
I didn’t take pictures of the hall but it was huge. Plenty of room in there to get round and also if you only use a chair outdoors you could easily leave it there fully set up and not have it be in the way.
The kitchen I could get my wheelchair in but it wasn’t adapted at all so it’s a good job we ate out mostly! I did just about manage to make toast one morning but someone had to reach plate and cup down for me. Both the fridge and freezer were accessible. There wasn’t room to turn but the kitchen is small and I could have reached all sides without moving (and at once probably!). You wouldn’t get more than one person in there if one was a wheelchair user!
The dining area/table, kitchen and lounge are all open plan. There was room to get my wheelchair round the lounge but only just. The sofa was very very comfy and lovely but low and a pain to get up of off. I ended up having to roll off the sofa onto the floor and then crawl to my wheelchair to get up. There is a high back more supportive chair in the bedroom which you could move but it would be a very tight fit in the lounge!
Very low wall mounted TV in the lounge. We didn’t watch any TV really but it didn’t feel comfortable watching it there, it was a bit low! I suspect all the villas have their TVs there as there was a hole in the unit below it with a DVD player in it. But I can’t help feeling that’s a stupid place in a wheelchair accessible villa. With the TV one side and the coffee table the over it was tight and I did knock it once or twice.
Two pictures of the accessible bedroom, both taken from the door. The top shows the electric bed (this was a twin room with one electric bed) and gives a rough idea of how much space. The second shows the high back chair, wardrobe and part of the other bed and basically is just to give more of an idea of space. You could easily have two wheelchair users staying in that room and fit two carers assisting in at the same time (although not to sleep, obviously!) there is absolutely buckets of space in there. You would, obviously, have to fight over the electric bed though!
The other bedroom in the villa is a double and isn’t accessible as such. You could just about get a wheelchair in there (although I didn’t try) but you’d not get round.
Overall I was pleased with the accessibility of the villa although you certainly couldn’t manage there in an all disabled group if you were all (or the majority) wheelchair users.