Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Accessible London

Amana and I had a day to ourselves, with Imi very unusually being in respite for a couple of nights in half term. She decided she wanted to go to London, to visit Auntie Lou. 

As Auntie Lou actually lives in a very lovely but tiny top floor flat in a fairly inaccessible part of London, we compromised by meeting her in slightly more central London, and putting wheelchair access to historic transport to the test. 

First stop, train from Didcot. So far, so good. Had to resist being put onto an earlier train our off peak tickets wouldn't have been valid for, but apart from that, all well. And nice coffee at the station. 

No one meeting us as arranged at Paddington, but two helpful fellow passengers lifted A off the train for me. Score one for the manual wheelchair.  

Next stop, Westminster. Transport for London suggests a 15 minute journey if you can climb stairs. It had difficulty suggesting a sensible route for us, finding us several which involved multiple buses, and one which included a boat! We compromised on a 1 hour tube ride. District and circle with a carefully timed change to the grey line. Jubilee? I forget. Multiple lifts between platforms, at any rate. 

One happy tube rider. And one happy mother; the "small" gap between platform and train being definitely better negotiated by manual chair rather than power tank beast. 
London Eye. Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, history a go go. Crowds. Heaving, pulsating, stopping every twelve seconds to take another photo with a selfie stick crowds. And very helpful guides fast tracking us through the ticket hall and past the queuing hordes. 
Warm capsules, good views, no elevator musak, good times! 
Off. And anything rather than face the crowds on Westminster Bridge again, so quick diversion to a side stress for an excellent curry lunch, and then a Duck Tour. 
Very very definitely not in any way accessible. And I won't be carrying her up wet metal step ladders again if I can help it. But worth it, once, for the joy and silliness involved in taking a big yellow bus trip into the river and out again. 
And seeing Big Ben from underneath instead of on top.
More tubes. 
A cable car 
With very beautiful sunsetty views slightly further down the river. 
Docklands Light Railway. 
Hammersmith and City. 
Back to Paddington for a particularly well equipped changing places loo. 
Before catching our regular train back to Didcot, having been bumped up to first class because someone else had thoughtfully booked out the standard class wheelchair spot. 
Free coffee for me!
Camera phone for a tired girl. 
Who, me? 
Ramps waiting for us at Didcot, back to our bus and home. 

And sleep. 


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