Sunday, 31 July 2011

Summer Holiday's begin!

Summer Holiday's YAY! I love school holiday's! I pack tons of stuff into the holiday's so there's no time to be bored!

We kicked this one off with a trip to London. Arriving on Saturday 23rd July and staying till Saturday 30th July.

Our first outing was on the Sunday. I bought Dude a ball from the corner shop and we headed for St James's Park.

I avoid the Underground as much as I can. There is only a few stations that I can access with Dude in his wheelchair so I tend to stick to buses where possible. If I cant get there in good time by bus or from the stations we can access then we don't go. As you can imagine, hundreds of stairs and a wheelchair do not mix! We're quite fortunate that there is a bus that runs right from where we stay into Trafalgar Square and takes us to just about everywhere we wish to visit.

So, we took the bendy bus to Trafalgar Square and walked the short distance to the park. Finding a nice flat area of grass we set up our picnic and Dude decided that he would rather not play using his waking frame but stick to crawling on the grass. The ball I had bought him never came out the bag. He was too interested in the rats with wings Pigeons. He wanted a closer look and told off anyone who chased them. He came up with the idea of being a tree with a nest on his head so that the Pigeons would land on him.

Being a tree.

The tree disguise didn't work so he changed tactics and filled his hat with sticks in the hope that the Pigeons would take a stick and he would 'sneek up and take a closer look.' After a few hours playing and picnicking, we took a walk through the park to Buckingham Palace. We don't normally bother as Dude has never really been interested but this time he decided he would like to see the soldiers. We had to stand there till both soldiers had marched twice before Dude felt it was OK to leave now and head home via the bendy bus.

Day 2 of our trip saw us back in Central London via bus but this time we did our 'walk'. Our walk takes us past allot of the tourist, sight seeing places and is pretty easy with the wheelchair. Lots of things to look at and Dude loves the ride on the river cruise boat. We walk up to Westminster and catch the boat from there, getting off at the Tower of London. We walk over Tower Bridge and then back along the river towards Westminster. You get to see not only the Tower and Bridge but The Golden Hind, Clink Museum, London Bridge Experience, Southwark Cathedral, Globe Theater, HMS Belfast, OXO Tower, London Eye, Big Ben and various other stuff not in that order though. As we came up to Southbank (London Eye area) we noticed there was a Festival going on. The Southbank had been transformed into a seaside resort with a beach and a funfair. Dude pleaded with me to let him play but I was shattered from the long walk and promised that I would bring him back the following day.

We did go back the following day. This time I decided to take the tube since the local tube station where we were staying had escalators and Kings Cross and Westminster stations are both considered accessible(unless you take into account the huge step from the tube to the platform, not a problem if you have someone to get you down but would be with a power chair or traveling alone in a manual chair) both stations have lifts to all areas.

On the Southbank you can normal find various people dressed up. This time there was Batman. Dudes favourite character at the moment. After a quick picture we headed for the rides. I don't normally like to take Dude to the fair as I find it hard to lift him and keep him up right nowadays. He can't really sit on most rides whilst they're moving so i have to hold him up. I let him go on the carousel. I was given a free ticket for me to go on with him and we sat in one of the carriages rather then trying to stay on a horse. Dude still loved the ride and giggled whilst telling me he was going dizzy.

After a quick go on the cars we consumed Marshmallow Men and headed for the "beach". Although there was ramp access to the wooden walkway that kept the sand in place, we was unable to access it because of buggy congestion. I bumped him up instead and removed the boots and splints so he could go play. I kept him near me as none of the kids using the beach were nice and stopped him from playing. I helped him build a sand castle showing him to dig for the wet sand. After a few hours we went looking for an accessible loo. I found one just behind us and saw that the bridge we was by (which took us over to Embankment) had lifts. There was 2 sides to the pedestrian bridges with the rail bridge going between. I decided to use the side that was closest to us. Big mistake! I didn't realise that only one side had a lift back down to the north side of the river. I ended up walking all the way to Charring Cross Station. I then had to get back to Westminster to get the tube as Charring Cross is not accessible. We was fortunate enough that there was a bus right outside that was heading back down to Westminster and the wheelchair space was empty (buggies stop us from accessing buses on a daily basis. Very few parents vacate for a wheelchair and drivers wont move them either. I find it very frustrating as I don't have the option of folding down Dudes wheelchair and lifting him on unlike they do).

Wednesday was Harry Potter day. I had bought tickets to see Deathly Hallows part 2 but the person we was going with hadn't seen years 4 to Deathly Hallows part 1. We had seen 1 year at a time over the last few nights and only had year 7 part 1 to watch before the cinema trip. We watched the first part which just finished in time to get to the afternoon showing. We usually stick to the wheelchair bay and seats next to it but they was so far over to the side I decided I would sit Dude on my lap to watch the film. He was funny! The film was in 3D and he tried several times to hug Harry. 

With only two more days left to have outings we went to Clacton to visit a friend. Taking the tube through to Liverpool Street I negotiated the 3 steps from the platform to the ticket barriers with a little struggle. There is lift access from the barriers to the mainline area. I hadn't booked assistance for the trains this time and was worried about getting on and off the trains. My friend had sorted assistance at Clacton end and I just had to take my chances at the London end. I didn't need to worry. The staff were great and got us on without a problem.  My friend greeted us at the station and took us to the beach. It was a cloudy day but still quite warm. With all the nattering myself and my friend did and the cloudy skies, suncream didn't pop into my head. Yes, both Dude and I got sun burnt. I felt awful because Dude got burnt. It doesn't often happen with the last time he got burnt being in 2009. Apart from the sun burn, we had a fantastic day. I got to sit and relax after a kind family next to us took Dude under their wing and dug a hole with him and their grand kids. Dude had some fun trying to jump over the waves in the sea and then went rescuing "squids" off the beach.  Getting home was fun. Once we arrived back at Liverpool street i wasn't prepared to bump Dude up the flight of stairs to the opposite platform so decided to bump him down the 3 steps to the platform I had arrived on earlier in the day. The plan was to go one stop to Aldgate and catch the train in the opposite direction to Kings Cross. It would have gone that way if I had got on the right Tube. I ended up on a Hammersmith and City line train instead of a Circle line and of course this tube didn't stop at Aldgate. I ended up having to go all the way to West Ham which was first stop that I could access the platform that took us back. I added an hour on to our journey home.
Rescuing "squid"
On our last day we took a trip with Dude's brother to London Zoo. We took the bendy bus to Camden Town and walked from there to the zoo. I had bought our tickets online so we avoided the queues. Dude really doesn't do queuing and my knees kill standing still for long. We had a great day. The volunteers were fantastic towards both the children and one allowed Dude to hold a branch with a huge Caterpillar on. The only part we didn't access was the Animal Adventure area as there wasn't a thing that Dude could use. We ended the day in the shop as you have to exit through it now. I wasn't impressed with the price of stuff but then it is expected in London and at a main attraction.

I was so ready to go home the next day. Shattered was an understatement. Because there was no one to help me to the station I had to go by bus. In the time we had been in London 5 buses broke down because the ramp wouldn't go back in. It happened on the way home too. The bendy bus broke as we switched to the next one to take us to Kings Cross.
We finally arrived at the station after 1 1/2hrs and headed over to the information stand to let them know we had arrived. Booking assistance to get you on and off trains means you have to be at the station 20mins before your train is due. No last minuet dashes for trains for us. We get loaded onto the train before everyone too. Dude asked our helper to take us to platform 9 3/4. He took us to 1 3/4 instead. He had a meltdown on train as it was crammed. The train before had been canceled so we had all the passengers from that on our train too. He calmed and the rest of our journey was history!

We have lots more planned. Next weekend we go to Special Kids camp and we cant wait. Yes, we're CAMPING! Bring it on!


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