So today was the big trip up to London. On my own. Travelling by wheelchair.
It’s a scary adventure, with even the best laid plans sometimes going a little wrong.
I’m off to BBC Broadcasting House to record a Podcast for Ouch. I’m a Podcast virgin! But Damon Rose was very reassuring. It will be informal and it will be fun. He convinced me…. in fact, he couldn’t shut me up once we started to talk about weight loss!
I needn’t have worried. At all. It seemed that all the helpful people in the UK were accompanying me on my journey to London. Wherever I was, so were those wonderful helpful people. And I’m not being sarcastic either! Firstly a lovely passer by at Reading Station noticed me lurking by the self-service ticket machine and offered to help me get my ticket. Fantastic, as the area covered by a vicious plastic flap where the tickets are dispensed to is about the same depth as my arm. In fact anyone seeing me trying to get my ticket out of the machine probably thinks my arm has been amputated by the flap in the process as I dip into the recess to shoulder level.
As I’d been stuck on an earlier train to the one I’d booked assistance for, I arrived earlier into Paddington. There was no ramp waiting. Two or three very helpful people (passengers on the train) went off to search for platform personnel. One thing I notice when I am stuck on a train with no means of alighting to the platform some four foot below is that other passengers tend to get a lot more panicked than I do. After all, I’m at Paddington, the end of the track with no where else to go.
Having said that, I was almost returned to the depot once with the train, but luckily the train driver spotted me as he exited the train.
Another helpful lady offered to help me as I juggled a rather large banana, a bottle of water and my purse. The aim was to end up with them all inside my bag, but I rather fear it looked as though I was struggling! A lot!!
I leave the station, pleased to be travelling by wheel, as the tannoy announces that the gates to the underground have been closed for Health and Safety purposes. There are too many people in the station below us.
The journey to BBC Broadcasting House takes me about 35 minutes. I had thought it would take me about 15 minutes, travelling at top whack of 6mph. But I didn’t take footpath hoggers walking three abreast and dragging trolley suitcases into account. Or the lack of dropped kerbs. Very frustrating when you have to tail back on yourself having reached the end of a pavement that is lacking one!
The people are great. I’ve not met Simon Minty before, although I recognise his name. Damon Rose, Rob Crossan and Kate Monaghan are welcoming. The recording starts and it’s as if we are all just sat around a table in a pub chatting.
Afterwards I head to my next meeting, down Regent Street, across Piccadilly, through Green Park, across the Mall (where I time my crossing perfectly to witness the Trooping of the Colour) and then into St James’ Park.
I don’t need any more helpful people, I’m fine – just me on my tod, whizzing along the cobbled streets.