Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award

Another blogger award! This time I’m nominated for the Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award in this post by Smelly Socks and Garden Peas. First I’ll set out the rules, then I’ll answer the questions I’ve been asked, nominate some more bloggers for this award and give them 5 questions of my own to answer.

Rules

Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.

Answer your nominator’s questions.

Nominate up to 9 other bloggers.

Notify your nominees.

Ask 5 questions.

List the rules and display the “Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award ” logo.

My Answers to the Questions

  1. What one thing would you stop your significant other from doing if you could just switch it off with no argument or consequences?

I’m afraid I can’t really properly answer this as I don’t currently have a significant other and it’s probably unfair to discuss my ex and would probably take me a while.

  1. What’s your favourite sport to watch or participate in?

I only watch sport and haven’t really participated in any for a while. My favourite sport to watch, both live and on the tv, would definitely be Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). I even have a full section on my MMA Travels on my blog, alongside a section for my favourite MMA promotion, Cage Warriors.

  1. What’s your favourite movie of the 1990s?

As I was born in 1996 (yeah I realise I’ve probably made some people feel quite old there) I didn’t really have many films to choose from that I already knew were DEFINITELY 90’s films. But after a bit of research, I’ll have to go with the original Lion King. Probably quite a standard answer I know, but It’s just great. If you don’t dramatically sing along to “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” every single time, I’m going to need to understand why not (did I play that song whilst writing this? Yup).

  1. Whose blog would you love to do a guest post for?

I would have to say Shona from Shona Louise, she’s one of my inspirations and I always find her posts eye-opening, even to me as a fellow wheelchair user who also experiences some of the issues she discusses sometime. I’ve already contributed to her post on being an ambulatory wheelchair user, and I would consider doing a full guest post on Shona’s blog an honour if the opportunity ever arose.

  1. If you could be any Pokémon, which would it be?

I would have to say Pikachu, he’s my favourite (I’m not ashamed to admit I bought a mini Pikachu teddy at a convention literally a couple of years ago). I also feel like being an electric type Pokémon would be quite apt, what with me being an electric wheelchair user.

 

Nominations

Carrie Ann from CarrieAnnLightley.com – This post references inspirations in blogging and Carrie Ann is one of mine, particularly with her accessible travel content giving me lots of ideas for where and how I can travel as a wheelchair user.

 

Shona from Shona Louise– Again, this post references inspirations and I’ve already told you, in the guest post question, how Shona is one of mine. So of course, she’s in the nominations here.

Madison & Rebecca from Foster Family Travels – These two are quite likely my best friends and some of my biggest supporters from the blogging community

Brendan from Blind Injustice – one of my earliest supporters with my blog, but someone I feel I’ve not had a lot of contact with recently, maybe this tag will get us back in touch

Keith from On My Mind Today – another, albeit more recent, supporter of my blog and someone with whom I feel like I have, and could have,  a lot of interesting conversations

 

My 5 Questions

  1. Where would you be right now if you could be anywhere?
  2. What is the best concert you’ve ever been to, or if you’ve not been to a concert, which is the concert you’d most like to go to?
  3. What would your perfect day consist of if you could do anything?
  4. What would be your dream 3 course meal?
  5. Let’s spread a little more blog love, who are 5 bloggers you would recommend for me to check out?

 

I hope everyone enjoys learning a little more about me and my nominees enjoy answering the questions

 

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Grief & Loss: The Opposite Side of Father’s Day

A heavily personal post from me today. To mark UK Father’s day 2020, I thought I’d discuss my dad, my grief and how losing him has changed how I see Father’s day now.

Firstly, a content warning, I’ll be discussing grief, bereavement and bits and pieces of medical stuff here, so I’d suggest skipping this post if any of those are likely to significantly upset you or bring up any of your own experiences.

I guess if I was to explain this post in a sentence it’s exploring the opposite side of father’s day. As I said in the mini introduction, the publication of this post coincides with UK father’s day 2020 and is also a couple of days short of the 2-year anniversary of my own dad’s passing. Since he passed away, I’ve begun to see Father’s day in a different light. Of course, there are those who have been father figures to me that I can still celebrate. Men like my own stepdad, who has been there for me for years whilst my dad was still here and has continued to be there for me since my dad passed away. But father’s day is still different. All the emails from brands and venues about father’s day gifts and reminders, and every blogger “father’s day gift guide” that I see is a stinging reminder every single time that my dad is no longer with us. Now, I’m not saying don’t write that content or for brands not to send those emails, I just don’t think we see this side of the situation as often (how people approach certain days and occasions after a bereavement). So, I thought I’d explain my side of it and how fathers’ days is different now.

I didn’t see my dad often, we lived at pretty much opposite ends of the country for a good portion of my life, so I never made a very big deal of father’s day. I’d just send him a “happy father’s day”  message, and a present if I could find a particularly good one that I thought he’d enjoy. Oh, how I  regret that now he’s no longer here, I so wish I’d made a bigger deal of Father’s day when he was here.

Father’s day was different once I’d received a phone call that turned my world upside down, telling me that my dad was ill and that we’d have to rush up to the hospital (hundreds of miles away). I didn’t fully know what was going on, but I knew I had to organise and sort everything to be ready to drive up to the hospital in the morning. It’s pretty difficult to organise your life when it feels like the world’s spun on its axis and the ground’s dropped out from beneath you all at once.

Father’s day becomes different because all I can remember is my dad’s last father’s day  with  him in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit).  All of us (I have siblings) bringing cards and wishing him a happy father’s day. I can’t tell you how heart-breaking that was being unable to know what he thought of his cards or if he could actually hear us.

Father’s day is different when I realise that I spent the whole lead up to that day 2 years ago (basically the whole of June) discovering that the man I thought was invincible and immortal (because everyone thinks their parents are immortal right) actually wasn’t.

Father’s day becomes different when I remember the days and nights I spent trying to sleep in an ICU waiting room or relatives room wondering if dad was ok whilst the rest of us slept. Terrified to go to sleep in case he wasn’t with us when I woke up. Begging for someone to sit with him whilst I slept so that he wasn’t alone if something did happen.

Father’s day is different when I remember that,  instead of spending those June days chatting to dad and planning our trip to Madrid, I was cancelling the trip and wondering if I’d be helping to plan a funeral instead.

Father’s day will be different when I go to text him that same “ happy father’s day” message and realise I can’t because he won’t respond anymore.

Father’s day will always be different when every sentence talking about that wonderful man has to start with “dad was …” and not “dad is …”.

I’m not sure where I was going with this blog post. I this is what I’m saying is: Beyond the brands “father’s day” emails and adverts and the bloggers “ father’s day gift guides”, there’s a different side,  a different feeling to father’s day for me and those like me who no longer have the man we call dad with us. And I think that should be talked about more.

Happy father’s day, dad. I love you and I’ll miss you forever

All my love

Ems

The Awesome Blogger Award

Another blogging award! This time I’d like to thank Emmagayle from Empowered for the nomination; you can read her post on the award here. First, I’ll outline the rules, then answer the questions I was asked before nominating 5 other bloggers for the award and asking 10 of my own questions!

Rules

Thank the person who nominated you

Tag the post with #AwesomeBloggerAward

Answer the questions you were asked

Nominate at least 5 bloggers and inform them of their nomination

Give them 10 new questions to answer

My Answers

  1. What is your favourite post on your blog and why?

My favourite post would be my How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: Disability Edition post on the 5 things people say, and 5 they do, that get on my nerves as a disabled person. I feel like it put across my frustrations with those sayings/behaviours well enough without seeming like I was shaming people, and hopefully had an impact on how people interact with disabled people from now on.

  1. What is your writing process and do you have any rituals for getting ready to write?

I have no rituals as such but I do have a writing process. Firstly, I’ll plan out the blog post by hand in the specific notebook I use. Then I’ll transfer that plan into a word document on one of the templates I’ve made  (either the general template, the access review template or the train travel template, depending on the blog post) then I’ll just fill in the words around my planning notes until I have a blog post.

  1. What is one of your musical guilty pleasures?

That would probably be Taylor Swift. I have no explanation for why I listen to her music but she’s definitely the kind of artist I usually listen to, which I’m pretty certain means I can call her songs a guilty pleasure.

  1. Who was your first celebrity crush?

Ah, that was either Justin Timberlake or Simon Webbe from the UK boyband Blue. I had a crush on both at around the same time I think.

  1. What animal do you prefer – cats or dogs?

Dogs 100%, they’ve been part of my life my entire life as they were always our family pets.

  1. Where do you like to write your blog posts?

In terms of blog planning, I prefer to out blog posts in coffee shops with my notebook and a coffee or two, although obviously not at the moment with the lockdown and pandemic situation. For actual writing, I prefer to write in my  bedroom at my desk, whether that’s in my university room or my bedroom at home

  1. What is your favourite social media for blogging?

Definitely Twitter, I like the amount of interaction I can have with my audience and feel like I can show them more of me and my hobbies beyond blogging.

  1. Do you have any hidden talents?

I don’t think so. I can do that thing where you roll your tongue up into a full circle from the sides if that counts?

  1. When and where was your first holiday?

If we’re talking holiday abroad, the first one I remember was to Alcudia in Spain. I think I was 6 or 7 but I may have been older, I can’t really remember exactly. There may also have been an earlier holiday that I don’t remember.

  1. What is your favourite hobby?

Those of you who have read my blog for a while or follow me on Twitter (particularly on Saturday nights) will probably know the answer to this. I love to watch Mixed Martial Arts, either on tv or live  in person at venues. I prefer watching in person as the live atmosphere is almost always incredible, but when I’ll get to experience that again, with the impact of the pandemic, I don’t know.

Nominations

Glen from glenparmenter.com

Alyvia from LifewithLyv

Madison & Rebecca from FosterFamTravels

Thomas from The Doubting Thomas Blog

Joey from Concealed Voices

My Questions

  1. What is the explanation behind your blog name?
  2. What is your main goal with blogging?
  3. What skill would you like to learn?
  4. What is your favourite film?
  5. What city/country is top of your list to travel?
  6. Who is/are your inspiration(s) when it comes to blogging?
  7. What would you do if you could have your perfect day off?
  8. Do you have a favourite sport? If yes, which one?
  9. What is one inspirational quote or thing someone’s said to you that’s stuck with you?
  10. If you could invite 5 celebrities or inspirational people to dinner, who would you pick?

Thanks to Emmagayle for nominating me, I hope this gives a little more insight into the Invincible Woman behind the blog and that those I’ve nominated enjoy answering my questions.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award

Soooooooo I’ve been nominated for a Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award by the lovely Ashley from Blabbing Ash, you can read her post on the award here. First, I’ll set out the rules for the award, then I’ll answer Ashley’s questions, ask some questions of my own, and reveal my nominations for the award!

Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you with a link to their blog.
  2. Make a post of the award. (Using a photo with the logo.)
  3. Post the rules.
  4. Ask 5-10 questions of your choice.
  5. Nominate 10-30 other bloggers (or more) and notify them.

Questions set by Ashley

  1. What is the first thing you notice in a person?

The first thing I notice would be someone’s demeanour, whether they’re generally a happy person, someone who’s often sad, or someone who’s generally relaxed and laid back about everything. I usually  pick up on that pretty quickly and can get a general vibe from people.

  1. What are some challenges you think the next generation will face because of our generation’s now actions?

I think the biggest struggle will be money. I don’t want to get political on this, and I know it’s not the entire generation’s fault that there are money struggles. However, it’s well noted that there are various places in the world in bad financial situations at the moment, with a lot of people struggling. I don’t want to come across as a “social justice warrior” type , but I really hope the situation changes and there are fewer people struggling for money in the world sooner rather than later.

  1. What is something you could teach me that comes easiest to you?

I could teach you how to successfully drive an electric wheelchair. People that occasionally have to park my wheelchair for me usually find it quite difficult, but driving it has become second nature to me after all these years.

  1. Coffee or Tea? Why?

I prefer coffee, mostly because I like the process and routine of making my morning coffee and the head space I think it gives me to think through what I have to complete in a day. It’s the whole romantic thought of drinking coffee in your kitchen in the morning while the world wakes up.

  1. What is your favourite quote and why?

My favourite quote is “Those who love us never really leave us” from the third Harry Potter book The Prisoner of Azkaban.  I’m a big Harry Potter/ Sirius Black (the character who says that quote) fan and feel like that quote really encapsulates and helps me through my own experience with bereavement, which is something I’ve gone through a lot in recent years.

  1. What is the most useful thing you own?

I would say my electric wheelchair as that’s my main mobility aid and the reason I can go on all these adventures I write about on the blog. However, I technically don’t own that, I just loan it. So if we’re going on something I actually OWN, I would say my rollator/walker thing as it’s  my second most used mobility aid and I actually OWN it.

  1. Do you have a favourite comfort food? What is the recipe?

My favourite comfort food would be Mum’s homemade chicken pasta. I admit I don’t know the recipe to be able to recite it and I’ll have to ask her for it.

  1. If you could have lunch with one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

It would be Corey Taylor, the singer from my favourite bands Stone Sour & Slipknot. He’s one of my idols in general and pretty much musical idol and I’d love to be able to explain to him the impact he and his music have had.

My Questions

  1. What/where/who do you think of when I say the word “home”?
  2. Who is your favourite music artist or band?
  3. What is your proudest achievement in your blogging journey?
  4. What is your proudest achievement in life in general?
  5. Do you believe in regrets? If no, why not? And if yes, what’s your biggest regret
  6. What is your favourite travel memory?
  7. What is your main hobby?

Nominations

Shona from Shona Louise Blog

Carrie Ann from Carrie Ann Lightley Blog

Pippa from Life of Pippa

Alex from The VI Critic

Emma from Little Harto

Hope from The Hope Chronicles

Nikki from SpokenByHer

Claire from Short Girl Walking

Madison & Rebecca from Foster Fam Travels

Megan from Life in Postcards

I hope that this has given you some more insight into me and that the people I nominated enjoy answering my questions.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Hidden Aspects of Travelling with a Disability (Collaboration with Alex Ramzan from The VI Critic)

FINALLY, a new blog post! This one’s on the hidden aspect of travelling with a disability from my viewpoint as a wheelchair user. And even more excitingly, it’s a collaboration with Alex Ramzan from The VI Critic, check out his post on travelling with a disability as a visually impaired person here.

  1. It’s Time Consuming

The first thing is that travelling as a wheelchair user is waaaaaaay more time consuming. And it’s time consuming in 2 ways, both before a trip and on the day of the trip. Before a trip, there’s a bunch of hoops to jump through, firstly, I have to check if the stations I want to travel through are wheelchair accessible, then I have to check if the trains I want to travel on are wheelchair accessible (because THAT’S not always a thing) then I can book my train tickets, then I have book assistance through a phone call with the train company I’m travelling with, THEN I’m finally set to travel.

On the day, I have to turn up AT LEAST 20 minutes before my train and wait in an assistance lounge, then I have to wait to be taken to train by a staff member, then I have to wait for a ramp to enable me to get on the train, then I have to sit on the train for however long, then I have to get to the other end and wait for another ramp to appear to enable me to get off the train. You see all that waiting? That’s TIME.

  1. It’s Exhausting

Travelling as a wheelchair user is also exhausting. See point 1 about travel being time consuming, travel as a wheelchair user takes so much more time than it does as a non-disabled person, there’s a lot more hoops to jump through like I talked about above. And anything that takes more time also takes more energy. And so, travel as a disabled person takes so much more time and energy which makes it entirely EXHAUSTING.

  1. I Travel Before I Travel

Another thing I’ve found is that I take the trip in my head before I take it in reality. There are a lot of “what ifs” when travelling as a wheelchair user: What if the lift at a train or tube station breaks down? What if the assistance doesn’t turn up to get me off the train or tube? What if I’m on the bus in London and the automatic ramp breaks and I can’t get off the bus? What if there is luggage in the wheelchair space on a train and I have to make an issue to get it moved?  I’m one of those people that focuses on the “what ifs”, but I feel like disability, and specifically travelling with a disability,  intensifies that, there’s a lot of extra “what ifs” that disabled people have to consider and find solutions for. So, I’m always taking a trip prior to actually going, because I’m constantly coming up with the “what ifs” and figuring out solutions before they happen so I don’t meet a situation where I’m stressed and lost on what to do next. And to draw back to point 2, that feeling and situation is FLIPPING EXHAUSTING!

  1. It Makes Me Wary of People

I’ve also become very wary of people through my travels as a wheelchair user. I’m often on edge about how other people will react to me as a wheelchair user on public transport. Will they try to  “help” me and end up potentially doing more harm? Will they offer to carry my electric wheelchair off the train if the assistance doesn’t turn up? (Don’t do that it. It’s too heavy you’ll just hurt yourself and potentially break it), will they try and push my electric wheelchair (Don’t do that either, it won’t move and you’ll potentially break it) Or will people make accessibility issues seem like my fault? ( (Like asking “did you book?” when assistance doesn’t turn up to get me off a train). I’ve just become very wary of people and am much more likely to see the issues they may give me rather than the good they’ll do. And I’d really rather it not be that way.

  1. Knowing the System like the Back of my Hand isn’t Cute, it’s a Necessity

I have also found that I almost HAVE to know everything  about accessibility when I travel, I have to know which are the accessible tube stations, which are the accessible train stations and how to get around in between stations if I cannot go directly to my destination using an accessible station, particularly when travelling across London.  I feel like I have to be like that because either a) no one else fully knows about accessibility enough and b) if they do, I’ve had enough wrong information about accessibility from other people that I’m not ever fully confident in others’ accessibility knowledge, and I’d rather not end up somewhere inaccessible.

So those are the hidden aspects of travelling with a disability, specifically from my viewpoint as a wheelchair user. Be sure to check out Alex’s post here for his viewpoint on this issue as a visually impaired person.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Travel Bucket List: Top 5 Longer Trips I Want To Take

Again, it seems odd to be writing about travel with half the world currently on lockdown from COVID – 19, but alongside my Top 5 Bucket Cities I Want to Visit post, I wanted to share 5 longer trips I’d also like to take (road trips or whole country visits rather than specific cities) So, here they are!

  1. Interrailing

Those of you who know me personally or have been long time readers will know I spend a good amount of time on a train and love a good train ride, so interrailing seems like a nice extension of that and way to combine it with seeing the world (I could more than likely tick off a few of the bucket list cities this way). It would also be a good way to compare the accessibility of European railways to the variable experience I’ve had here in the UK. Plus falling asleep on a train out of one city and (intentionally) waking up in an entirely city (or country) sounds like magic to me.  I’d probably go to Paris first as it’s the easiest trip from London, then onto Madrid before finding a way to double back through various countries and get to Prague, or maybe I’d just interrail through Scandinavia specifically (Norway, Sweden and Denmark and maybe more) and make sure to visit Copenhagen, I’ve never imagined a set route so who knows!

  1. Greek Islands Tour

Island tours just have a sense of something special about them for me, which is why this is next on the list. I guess that love for islands properly started on our Sicilian road trip, and since I’ve already been to Kos and Rhodes somewhat, a Greek Island hopping trip sounds like a good next plan. I always figured I’d just grab a plane to Athens and then spend a month or so (maybe less) hopping between different islands.

  1. Ireland Road Trip

Next up is a road trip around Ireland (yes there’s a road trip/island hopping theme to these). Aoife and Ellie, 2/3 of the Invincible Women from whom this blog is named, did a road trip around Ireland not too long before we went to Sicily and I was slightly gutted not to get to go. So I’d like to get to see what the country has to offer, starting in Dublin of course, my #2 bucket list city

  1. Balearics Road Trip

I spent many a childhood summer holiday in Mallorca, one of the Balearic islands, and found it to be wonderfully accessible, so it would be nice to explore the rest of the Balearic islands, both to see how they are as islands in their own right and to see how they compare in accessibility to Mallorca (and other places of course). Now of course I know there are many islands in the Balearics and it’s quite impossible to see them all in one whole trip, so I’d probably start by going to Mallorca, or maybe I’d start with one of the other islands I’m not too sure. Let me know if you have any specific recommendations!

  1. Sri Lanka

Right, I’ll be honest here, this one’s on the list to prove a very specific point. There was a school expedition to Sri Lanka when I was in sixth form (so like 17/18 for those international readers who don’t know the UK school system) which I would have been interested to go on. However, the itinerary amongst other things made it seem like it wouldn’t be possible to adapt things to involve me in most activities, which has always irked me slightly. So, I’d like to go and explore Sri Lanka just to see how much of what I thought and was told was not accessible could become accessible with a little ingenuity and #InvincibleWoman thinking! I would probably most like to see Adam’s Peak and Sigiriya which I’m pretty sure were part of the original expedition itinerary, just to prove I may have been able to access them.

I hope this gives another little insight into where I plan to go when this is all over!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Travel Bucket List: Top 5 Cities I Want To Visit

Now it may seem odd to be writing about travel with half the world currently on lockdown from COVID – 19, but this lockdown just has me thinking about all the places I’ll go when it’s all over. So, with that in mind, Here’s my Travel Bucket List of the top 5 cities I want to visit when this ends.

  1. Prague

This idea came from my Dad who visited Prague a few years back, I believe he spent the Christmas/New Year period there. All I remember hearing about before he left and after he returned was him imploring me to go and repeatedly telling me how much it was something I NEEDED to see, and I knew it HAD to be good if he was suggesting it. His suggestion took on a different level of importance after he passed away. I remember him discussing the Old Town and Charles Bridge and how, even if I might struggle with the cobblestones in my wheelchair, it was an absolute must see! From all that, seeing sunset or sunrise at the Charles Bridge has become this moment of magic in my head and an absolute bucket list must do.

  1. Dublin

Next up is Dublin. It definitely seems like a very vibrant place with plenty to visit and see, which is certainly my kind of “exploring” holiday vibe. Plus, given that Aoife herself is Irish, I may end up travelling with a “local guide” of sorts, which could lead to finding and exploring some hidden gems not found in travel guides. The only thing that could make any trip better would be being able to pair it with seeing an MMA show if I could coincide the two? OH what’s that I hear? UFC Dublin in August if COVID 19 eases by then?! I guess we have a potential date for a Dublin trip then.

  1. Copenhagen

Now Copenhagen’s one of the places I should have already been. I was supposed to visit a friend who was studying there at the time a couple of years ago, but that trip was cancelled when my dad fell ill. So I kind of feel like I have unfinished business with Copenhagen even though my friend is no longer studying there, like I HAVE to go there to do the trip I had planned.

  1. Madrid

Again, Madrid is one of those places I was supposed to have been already. I was booked to go with my dad, but we were supposed to fly right around the time he got ill so obviously that trip was cancelled. When he passed away, I promised him I’d do our trip someday, the visit to the Santiago Bernabéu (dad was a Real Madrid fan), eating so much tapas (including from the famous San Miguel market) and seeing what the place had to offer. So again it’s a sense of unfinished business with Madrid, completing a trip that was already planned and honouring my promise to my dad.

  1. Paris

I know I know, what a cliché bucket list trip, but this is yet another instance of “I said I’d do it so now I’m going to”. All throughout my time living in London I talked to friends about how I’d love to be spontaneous, jump on an early morning Eurostar to Paris with a mate for a girly day, explore the French capital, and be home in time for supper. So that’s what I intend to do when this is all over.

I hope this gives a little insight into where I plan to go when this is all over!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Lockdown, COVID – 19 and Me: How this pandemic has the InvincibleWomanOnWheels feeling a little less invincible

It was sort of inevitable that I’d be writing about COVID – 19 and the lockdown, let’s face it it’s all anyone can think about right now. So here’s my take on COVID – 19, lockdown and how it’s affected my life.

So let’s start with the practical bits: The events I’d planned to attend have now been cancelled or postponed (fingers crossed this thing eases by October so the rescheduled Cage Warrior 114 card can go ahead and we can celebrate mine and my mum’s birthdays at the same time). My university is now closed with all lectures and exams online AND I’ve left Birmingham and moved back to the family home for the foreseeable future. While this might be a bit of an annoyance as I’m used to my own space and schedule having lived on my own for most of the last 5 years now, but I know it was the right decision. I’m 90% an introvert so staying inside is something I can do pretty easily by choice; I mean I spend most Saturday nights watching MMA by myself rather than clubbing or at a bar. But of course there is no choice in this situation and THAT’S the bit that’s going to be a struggle. Those of you who regularly read this blog will know I spend what feels like half my life on a train, but that isn’t possible right now, so the wanderlust is building up a fair bit right row. So I guess it’s just time to stockpile wanderlust in this lockdown and use it all up when I can.

Now on to the more specific bits: What does COVID – 19 mean for me in terms of my disability? Well I have cerebral palsy which according to the list below would make me somewhat high risk for the virus (but not shielding level high risk) and vulnerable which meant I should stay inside as much as possible. It didn’t specify if it was a specific type of cerebral palsy that would make people vulnerable but I chose not to take the risk and begin isolating/quarantining/whatever the appropriate word is. I have to admit that that scared me a fair bit. I’d never seen my disability as something that made me vulnerable or significantly affected my life before, it was just sort of this thing that existed as part of my life and meant I got a cool set of wheels. But seeing my condition on that list and knowing what that said about the effect this virus could have on me was a reminder that I wasn’t entirely invincible.

COVID 19

The really REALLY scary part about this is not the way it is impacting me, but the way it’s impacting my family. My mum’s autoimmune disorder means she’s at the highest risk if she gets COVID – 19 and has to shield for 12 weeks. I’d known it was coming after hearing that those with autoimmune conditions were high risk and knowing the condition she has, but hearing that she’d actually got the text about shielding still came as some weird kind of shock even though I knew it was coming. We don’t always get on 100%, we’re too similar for our own good and we both drive each other up the wall more often than not, but god do I love that woman. The thought of her getting this virus and potentially losing her, and losing both my parents in the space of 2 years, terrifies the entire life out of me. The reminder that the woman who made me invincible may not actually be as invincible herself as I always thought she was is an eye opening wake up call that I wasn’t expecting to affect me in quite the way it has.

PLEASE stay inside and observe social distancing so I can be close to my mum again and her and other high risk people (and everyone else) can safely leave their house at some point this year.

Stay Safe, Stay Inside, Wash Your Hands and Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

InvincibleWomanOnWheels Frequently Asked Questions/ Get to Know Me and Q & A

Realised I’d never actually done a Get to Know Me post on the blog , so I combined that with a few questions from my social media followers and blog readers to create this combined Frequently Asked Questions / Q & A for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions/ Get to Know Me

Name: Emma, Em, Ems, The Invincible Woman On Wheels

Age: 23

Condition: Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia

Location: Chippenham/Birmingham – based in Birmingham for University

What’s the reason/ message behind the blog: To give a realistic view of life with a disability. Disability isn’t all pity and sadness but let’s be real it’s not all sunshine and rainbows either.

 Q & A

What is the story behind the blog name and social media handles?
The idea essentially began on the Sicily trip which is the first post on here. My travelling companions and I managed to work around and overcome many challenges that we faced on this trip (both accessibility based and otherwise). This led to us calling ourselves the Invincible Women throughout the trip and beyond. Whilst on that trip those friends encouraged me to start thi blog. So when it came to thinking of a blog name, it only felt write to take inspiration from the name we’d given our trio on that trip, a sort of homage to where it all started. And so Invincible Woman On Wheels now exists as you know it.

Any advice for other disabled bloggers?
I think my biggest slice of advice would be to write about what you know from the viewpoint of your condition. By that I mean write about your experiences and don’t try and write about a topic, if you don’t think you have the right knowledge, just because you think you SHOULD be writing about it or it’s the “trendy” topic. I’d rather see “I don’t know about X” in a blog post than someone who’s trying to pull information from a website or such without any first-hand experience. My other advice would be honesty, particularly if you’re writing access reviews like I do. Venues may not like it too much if a review paints them in a negative light, but if you’re trying to give good access information to fellow disabled people, an honest, accurate review is better than a nicey nicey one.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever been asked?
Someone I’d barely spoken to once asked me “So how do you have sex?” and I. I. I. JUST DON’T ASK THAT. There are 3 questions/comments here: a) Would you ask an able bodied person that?! b) Why does that question even enter your head as the first one to ask me?! c) That’s literally not anyone’s business unless we’re dating.

I hope these answers give a quick insight into me, the woman behind Invincible Woman On Wheels, and if anyone has any more questions, let me know!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

TFL Accessibility Interview: Transcript and Further Thoughts

A little while back, I did an interview with Colette Little from Colfessions about the accessibility of the TFL underground system in London! In today’s post I thought I’d run you through what we discussed, what I said then, and anything else I’d add, with what I know now.

In what ways do you think London transport needs to become more accessible?

What I said then:

The major problem is step free-ness, particularly with the tube, because 23%, around a quarter is step free, and that’s just not good enough. They advertise that as well – like that’s not something to advertise. If you think that’s good enough, that’s not. I think the other major issue is communication, because a lot of the times where I have issues with the tube, is that someone has put me on the train, and then not told whoever they’re supposed to tell, and there’s no one to get me off the train at the other end. Or the train terminates, and they don’t know I’m on it. Basically, they’re supposed to tell the line controller, who’s supposed to know, and they’re supposed to tell the station that I’m getting off. And either the station that I’m getting off at doesn’t get told so if I need a ramp to get off the train at the other end I don’t get it, or if the train terminates, and they haven’t told the line controller, if they know I’m on the train they’re supposed to stop it so I can get off and they can terminate it properly, and a few times they’ve stopped it at a station that isn’t accessible so I can’t get off, so I’ve been sat there at the door screaming or someone to get me off. Obviously in my manual chair, which is the other chair I use, I can’t get off the train myself I can’t wheel myself or anything, and in this, trying to get off a gap that’s say 4/5 inches, this would break (My electric chair that I’m currently sat in.) So, I would be sat at the door screaming and screaming and screaming for someone to get me off the train and it would take a good 10/15 minutes for them to figure it out, figure out that I’m on the train, and sort it out. Obviously in terms of my mental-ness it’s terrifying – the fact I go on the tube every single time and think will I be able to get off the train, will I be able to use the lift, will the lift work, will I have to go some weird way around to get to a lift that works. You always constantly think about that and you can’t just get on a train and think ‘its fine’. Unless I’m going to Kings Cross which is a station which I regularly use so I can roll on and off, and mentally, it’s draining frankly.

What’s changed:

I don’t think that much has changed since that interview, in regard to this question. I know there’s been a raft of new lifts put in and stations redesigned, so that quarter of stations wheelchair accessible figure is likely to be much higher, but the TFL website still says a quarter so I can’t be sure on the new figure. Those constant questions I mentioned about whether I’d be able to use lifts (or if they’d work) still exist, but I have to answer them less frequently now as I no longer live in London so only have to tackle the tube infrequently when I visit from Birmingham now.

Do you have any positive or negative specific instances, like stories, that you can tell me about?

What I said then:

The longest and most detailed story I can give you is we were coming home from a trip to Birmingham on the train. Got home to Euston, we were like ‘yeah we’ll get on at Euston Square and then Euston Square goes straight back to Uxbridge. Metropolitan line, the easiest trip you could make.’ No. We got the Euston Square and the lift was out, and my friend was with me, and I had to get my friend to go down the stairs to find someone to get them to call me a taxi because the policy that they put out is that if the lift is broken, or it’s not accessible somehow, TfL policy is that they’ll whether call you a taxi to take you home, or to the nearest accessible station – whichever is closest really. So, I was told they were calling me a taxi to Kings Cross, and I know it’s like a 10-minute walk, but we’ve walked all the way from Euston Square and if they owe me a taxi, they owe me a taxi. And the guy was like “that’s not the policy” so I had to screenshot the policy from the website and show it to him, and he was like “I’m going to get my manager because you’re lying.” And I was like “I’m showing you the website but okay.” So, his manager came up and was like “why have you dragged me here, she obviously is right, you know the rules, phone her a taxi.” We sat there and waited like half an hour for this taxi, and at that moment I was waiting on principle. Got in the taxi, we were told it has been paid for by TfL, so they prepaid it so we could just get out and wander off. Got to Kings Cross, got out the taxi, went to wander off, and he was like “no you need to pay me.” I was like “No, TfL have paid you, we’ve been told TfL have paid you” and he literally held us to ransom basically and wouldn’t let us leave until we had paid for the taxi and I was like “fine, just have your money.” Got to Kings Cross, and the Piccadilly line was broken from Kings Cross to we couldn’t use it and they’d already closed the Metropolitan line because it was a Wednesday and they close it at a certain time from Wembley onwards. So, then they had to put me on a Piccadilly line that went somewhere else. Stuck me on the Piccadilly line, so my friend had to change her plans and go to a different station to where she was going to go to because obviously a different lines, and then I was like “it’s fine, I’m getting a friend to pick me up from Uxbridge station anyway, so you can get off where you need to get off and I’ll just sit on the train that goes to Uxbridge and I can sit on a train by myself fine.” And this is when they terminated it at a station which I couldn’t get off at. So, I was by myself in my manual chair and there was no one else in the carriage and everyone just got off and I was there screaming for them to get off the train. And I had to keep texting and calling the friend who was picking me up and just say “this is how it is, this is how it is”, to the point where the guy at Uxbridge station was calling the line operator yelling at him about this whole situation, and ended up letting my friend through when I got to Uxbridge, letting her go on the platform without a pass or a ticket or anything because they knew I’d be in bits about this whole situation. It took, I think, four hours to get back from Euston with all that faff. It’s mad. There were very many different things, if one thing had happened it would be fine but there were about ten different things that went wrong. It was an interesting evening.

What’s changed:

Not much has changed here either, this is probably still the worst access experience I’ve had on TFL. However, what has changed is that I’ve FINALLY written that Euston/Euston Square ordeal up as its own blog post!

By 2024, TfL aim for 38% of underground stations to be step free. Do you think this is enough stations, and is it soon enough?

What I said then:

I think it’s sooner than I expected it to be. It’s still not enough stations, we’re always aiming for 100%, but it’s movement and that’s good. I’m trying to be as positive as I can here. I think there’s movement in the right direction, and it’s at a speed quicker than I thought it would be, and there’s definitely stations in the past four years or so that I can access that I couldn’t when I moved to London. There is movement, and it’s at a decent pace, but it’s not quick enough. I’m still glad that there is movement and they are working towards something, but they could just be like “no that’s it, 27% is enough.” It’s fast, it will never be fast enough frankly until it’s 100% step free, but there is movement and I’m appreciative of that.

What’s changed:

I think I was way more delicate with this answer than what I was probably actually thinking. While I’m appreciative of the fact that accessibility and redesigning stations isn’t instant. There’s no way the redesign is happening fast enough or at enough stations. NO. WAY. AT. ALL. I’d also be interested to see if that 8% figure and timeline is still going to be hit. Given that the website still says a quarter and we’re in 2020, I’m not holding out hope for the timeline to still happen.

How do you find out that a station has newly become step free, or there’s been a new lift installed?

What I said then:

Basically, I follow al the TFL lines on twitter because that’s the easiest way to find out if the lifts are broken. They tend to announce on there “the new plan is this” and they’ll announce a whole press release of this station by this year, this station by this year, or it just happens that I check the TfL journey planner and it gives me a new route which gives me a new station that I wouldn’t normally use. And I’m like “oh – they have step free access.” Also, the TfL access for all group I follow them quite a lot, so they seem to announce new places first because they have connections with TfL so it’s mostly social media.

What’s changed:

I see and know less about the new lifts and step free access at tube stations because I don’t live there anymore so I’m way less likely to just randomly wander into a newly step free station these days, my routes tend to focus on places I’ve already previously been. One way I find out about new station access that I forget to mention was Geoff Marshall’s YouTube channel, that was specifically how I found about the Bond Street lifts and new entrance, back when those were new.

Finally, with the definition of accessibility encompassing blind people, deaf people, people with autism, people with dementia etc., do you think a 100% accessible London is foreseeable in the future?

What I said then:

No, I don’t think so. I think it’s going to be 100% accessible in terms of step free, I think that’s a possibility, but I think in terms of accessible in terms of all disability I don’t think that’s going to happen, just because I think that for people with autism and stuff like that it’s a lot about crowds, and obviously with it being London, in particular the central stations, it’s always going to be busy. So that’s going to have to be the way that it works. I’m not saying they have to put up with that, but I think that’s a fact that you can’t really get away from, the fact that particularly central London – I’ve been through Westminster in rush hour, and it’s too busy. I don’t think you can ever get away from that and I’m not sure how they would work to make that accessible. I think step free accessibility, 100%, it’s a possibility. I’m not going to say it’s going to happen because you know – TfL. But I don’t think full accessibility for everyone it going to happen. I would like to see it happen, but I don’t know.

What’s changed:

I think this is the answer I wanted to change most since the interview. I feel like maybe it could be read like I was creating a pedestal for step free access and saying, “step free access has to happen and well nothing else is possible” and if that IS how it comes across, I want to make it clear that’s totally NOT what I meant. I just meant more in the fact of access for all is obviously the goal but, having watched TFL make an absolute farce of improving step free access, I’m not holding my breath on them being able to achieve access for all without making a mess of it.

I hope this is an insight into my views of accessibility on the London underground as a wheelchair user, thanks to Colette for interviewing me. If you want to read more of her blog you can check out the link I put right at the start of this post.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)