Travelling from Birmingham New Street to Chippenham (via Swindon) as a Wheelchair User? Here’s How I Did It

Another train travel blog, this time Birmingham New Street to Chippenham and back (via Swindon) with Cross Country and Great Western Railway for a day trip home.

Outbound

Ticket Buying & Getting On at Birmingham New Street

Tickets were booked on Trainline as per usual. All assistance was booked assistance over the phone with Cross Country and I arrived at the New Street assistance reception 20 minutes before the train and was taken to the platform by a staff member.

On Train

As usual on Cross Country trains, the train doors and corridor were tight even for my standard sized chair. The ramp was overly steep and the wheelchair space was really small.

Getting On at Swindon

That train took me to Swindon, on these journeys I’d expect to switch trains at Bristol Temple Meads but rail works led to the train being rerouted via Swindon instead. I can’t fault the accessibility and service at Swindon, particularly as those trains don’t pass through Swindon often. I then switched trains for a Great Western Railway train to Chippenham.

On Train

The next leg of the journey was on Great Western Railway, which meant automatic first class train travel and THAT meant free coffee and plenty of space in the wheelchair space. I’ll call that a win win!

Disembarking & Leaving at Chippenham

On arrival at Chippenham, train staff (as opposed to station staff) disembarked me and I was able to wheel out of the station and home.

Return

Getting On at Chippenham

For the return journey I made myself known at Chippenham station 20 mins before train departure. I then made my own way over to platform using the lift and was put the train on with the ramp.

On Train

As this train was Great Western Railway , that again meant first class travel and lots of space on the wheelchair space. However, I didn’t have coffee this time as it was late.

Getting On at Swindon

When I got off my Great Western Railway train I was told that the train I’d booked assistance on to Birmingham was cancelled. This meant deciding whether to get the next train, which could get me to Birmingham but would involve an extra change at Didcot Parkway, or wait for the next direct train. In the end I decided I’d wait for the next direct train as I didn’t want to add the stress of an extra change in a new station into the mix. It was just my luck that the next direct train was also delayed by 20 minutes! I also learned that there’s no ramp at Swindon station for that particular train type, so I had to wait until a member of train staff was found to get the ramp from inside the train to get me on the train

On Train

Onboard there were the same issue as usual , tight doors and corridors, a steep ramp and a small wheelchair space. There was also luggage in the wheelchair space when I boarded but this was soon cleared when I asked who the luggage belonged to and declared that it would need moving, As I was not on my booked train I was also wary about assistance issues with regard to getting off the train.

Disembarking & Leaving at Birmingham New Street

My wariness about assistance issues was well founded as there was a bit of a delay in assistance arriving to get me off the train. Once I’d disembarked I was able to leave the station and wheel back to university accommodation.

I hope that this post shows what a train trip home from university in a day looks like for me as a wheelchair user.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Travelling from Birmingham New Street to London Euston as a Wheelchair User? Here’s How I Did It

Another train travel blog! This time Birmingham New Street to London Euston (with West Midlands Railway) for an interview!

Outbound

Ticket Buying & Getting On at Birmingham New Street

Tickets were booked through Red Spotted Hanky which meant I had to physically print them at the station. On the day of travel, I arrived at the Birmingham New Street assistance desk 20 minutes before departure, having prebooked my assistance, and was put straight on the train when it arrived with no hassle.

On Train

On the train, the wheelchair space gave me a large amount of space and was situated directly opposite the accessible toilet. Speaking of toilets, wheelchair – toilet transfers on moving trains are bloody difficult with just one grab rail!

Disembarking & Leaving at London Euston

On arrival at Euston, there was a delay with getting the assistance for me to disembark. I must say thank you to the fellow passenger who found and unlocked/ moved the ramp and attempted to put it down for me himself, I appreciate that you understood I had places to be and couldn’t wait forever for assistance and I’m sorry you were yelled at. It was also quite difficult to find and get out to the buses from the station to continue my journey.

Return

Getting On at London Euston

On arrive back at the station, I had to get all the way across the main area of the station from the entrance to the assistance area. That’s quite a long and difficult way through people when it’s busy, e.g. Friday afternoon (can ANYONE guess when I travelled?!) . I must thank the assistance staff at Euston for working to put me on an earlier train than my assistance was booked on.

On Train

It was VERY busy on the train. I managed to getting into the wheelchair space but the train then very quickly became standing room only with people crowded into every space on the train.

Disembarking & Leaving at Birmingham New Street

When it came to disembarking, working out how to move safely to the doors of the busy train from the wheelchair space was a worry. However, I’d like to say thank you to my fellow passengers for helping me get through to the doors and to staff at Birmingham New Street staff for being there at the train door on our arrival and not making me wait for assistance.

I hope this post gives insight into travelling between Birmingham and London as a wheelchair user!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Wheelchair Accessible Travel: Rhodes Island, Greece

Photo Credit: Col Lymburn

Another travel blog time! This time: My family holiday to Rhodes in Greece!

Flying

First up, Flights! I need to preface this by saying that I used my manual wheelchair for this trip so any wheelchair mentions are talking about my manual wheelchair. On arrival at Birmingham airport, we made our way to bag check in where we were also able to pick up a luggage tag for my wheelchair which I saw as an unexpected bonus and a way to streamline the process. From there I thought everything was ok and there would be no need to go to the assistance desk (because all I figured they needed to do was tag my chair since assistance was prebooked, how wrong I was) and no one at the airport told us to go to assistance. On arrival at the gate, we learned that no ambulift had arrived to take me to the plane, apparently BECAUSE we hadn’t headed to the assistance desk, so there was a delay in waiting for that to arrive. For the flight home from Rhodes airport, we were one of the last called forward for boarding which meant having to wheel down the ramp onto the tarmac through all those who were already waiting to board. One unexpected bonus though was a fully wheelchair accessible private transfer from the airport to the hotel and back.

Hotel (Amathus Beach Hotel Rhodes)

Next up, the hotel!

Firstly, it must be said that the customer service here absolutely CANNOT be faulted. Particular shout out to the staff in the main restaurant for always making sure to seat us specifically at the most accessible tables every mealtime. Now onto the access. The accessible route to the main pool was through the car park/ drop off section, which is not the kind of trip I would have liked to do on my own. There was however a very doable accessible route from our room to the top level bar (the pool and the bar are the only important parts of a holiday right?!). In terms of the room itself, there was a bath and grab rails in the bathroom, I do prefer a wet room for ease of access but I’m used to baths and grab rails in hotel rooms now. The layout and size of the bathroom also made it easier to leave my chair outside and transfer into the bathroom. One of the bonuses here was adjoining rooms which made it easier to get assistance from my mum when struggling with some things like transferring in and out of the bath using the grab rails. This room was also a two level room with steps down to the balcony area which meant I had to be lifted down to the balcony which was an unexpected accessibility issue. I must also say that there are fully accessible rooms elsewhere in the hotel but I wasn’t in one of those so I can’t comment on what they are like.

Rhodes Town

Now, on to Rhodes town itself. In terms of public transport, the buses do have ramps which are manual so you have to ask the driver to lower the ramp out, which is situated in the middle of bus. We had a mixed experience with this, with no problem sorting it out on the way into town but what I think was a language barrier issue on the way out of town meaning we couldn’t get the driver to put the ramp down and I ended up having to be lifted on.

In terms of the town itself, the old town is so historic and beautiful and entirely worth going to, particularly if you like wandering through quaint little side streets, but it is quite cobbled so beware of that and be prepared. The modern side of the city has much better ground with just standard asphalt paths, I think it does have quite a confusing layout though so if you struggle with directions I’d probably prepare to get lost.

Waterpark

And finally, to the waterpark. We took a taxi to the waterpark from our hotel after seeing how full the free transfer bus from town to the waterpark gets. This was simply a case of folding my chair and transferring into the back of the taxi. Overall, I’d say the physical access at the park was ok with smooth asphalt paths most places although there were a couple of large hills. The actual ride access was less so, I was only allowed on about 2 of the rides (according to a list on display upon entry) due to safety, which made sense when I saw some of the rides available here, and I was glad to be made aware of ride access upon entry rather than trying to get on a ride and being turned away. I did get free entry though which I think balanced out the lack of ride access. The rides I could access were the lazy river and the wave pool, which was perfectly fine by me as those are my favourite rides.

I hope this gives everyone an insight into this accessibility of this trip!

Stay Invincible!

Em (InvincibleWomanOnWheels)

Travelling from Chippenham to Birmingham New Street (via Bristol Temple Meads) as a Wheelchair User? Here’s How I Did It

Here’s another train travel blog. This time, my long overdue review of my trip from Chippenham to Birmingham New Street (via Bristol Temple Meads) for the Aston University (where I’ll be a student by the time you read this!) Postgraduate Open Day back in June.

Outbound

Ticket Buying & Getting On at Chippenham

Tickets were bought on Trainline as per my usual ticket buying method. On the day of travel, I made myself known to staff at the station 20 minutes before train departure and then made my way across to the platform. It seemed that on this day there were fewer staff than usual, but the assistance was still well provided in a timely fashion.

On Train

On the train, there was nothing of note to report as it was only 30 minutes so a short journey. Free coffee was a massive bonus as usual though!

Disembarking & Leaving at Bristol Temple Meads

On arrival at Bristol Temple Meads, the on board staff waited with me until assistance staff arrived with the ramp which was more reassuring than being left on the train obviously. I then made my way through the large station and waited for my next train at the assisted travel desk.

Getting On at Bristol Temple Meads

For boarding my Cross Country train to Birmingham , the assistance on to the train arrived well in time for said train. However, it must be said that the ramp onto the train way steeper and that if there’s some ramp gradient guideline for trains it probably doesn’t meet those guidelines. So, I would be extra careful when boarding these trains.

On Train

The wheelchair space on the Birmingham train was quite small and my wheelchair barely fit. This confused me because it’s a small Motability standard electric wheelchair so surely it should be big enough to fit anywhere?! I was also surrounded by luggage which made for quite a claustrophobic train ride. 

Disembarking & Leaving at Birmingham New Street

I found the corridor really tight to navigate when trying to exit the train. Remember that ramp that I said was steep getting on the train? Yeeeaaaaah, turns out it’s even worse going down, particularly if you add in spatial awareness issues like I have. I have to say that the staff at Birmingham New Street were excellent and really helpful in guiding me down the aforementioned steep ramp.

Return

Getting On at Birmingham New Street

When it came to starting the return journey from Birmingham New Street, I arrived well in time before my train, even more than the requested 20 minutes prior to train departure. I then found that they’d repositioned the assistance desk from where it was last time I visited, so I asked where it was and was guided there by station staff. Being so early allowed me to get food etc. before my train which was a bonus. The ramp was again quite steep, maybe this is a specific problem for Cross Country trains?

On Train

On the train, the wheelchair space was again small and cramped, and yet again I was surrounded by luggage. Is this sounding déjà vu from the outbound journey? It felt like déjà vu.

Getting On at Bristol Temple Meads

Getting off the Birmingham, there was steep ramp down again, which station staff said should be longer (and therefore less steep) when I asked them about it. This made me wonder: why isn’t it a longer ramp then? I’m not saying that’s the station staff’s fault, but if there’s a problem known by someone, maybe we could try and fix said problem?! I must say though that what I thought would be a tight 20 minute connection was in fact not that tight a connection as I was straight off one train and taken straight to the other one.

On Train

On the train from Bristol Temple Meads to Chippenham there was really nothing to report. There were some concerns from on train staff that Chippenham was unmanned due to my late travel time but these worries turned out to be unfounded as Chippenham WAS manned. I must say that I was glad for the ample space in GWR train wheelchair spaces after the cramped Cross Country.

Disembarking & Leaving at Chippenham

When it came to disembarking at Chippenham, station staff got me off the train with the ramp and I was able to make my own way home.

I hope this gives an insight into my journey from Chippenham to Birmingham and particularly insight into what it’s like getting connecting trains as a solo wheelchair user!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

How to Deal With Wheelchair Accessibility Issues

Those of you who’ve read my blog of my trip to see Kaiser Chiefs in Kingston at the end of July will know that I booked an accessible room at one of the Travelodges in Kingston. But when I arrived to check in I found that there were no accessible rooms left for me. Sooooo basically I’d paid for something specifically so I could access it as a solo wheelchair user and didn’t get what I’d paid for. With that personal experience in mind, here are my top 5 tips for what to do in these situations.

Identify the Issue & Why It’s Happened

So, first thing’s first, identify the issue. Is there an issue with the booked hotel not be as accessible as stated or not having the stated equipment or adaptations available in the actual room? Or it that, like me, the booked accessible room was simply not available?

The next step is to find out why it’s happened, is it a human staff error (like a wrong entry into a booking system or a note missing about accessibility requirements)? Is it a misinformation issue (Stating some accessibility information on the website that doesn’t actually exist at the hotel)? Or is it, as in my case, a systems issue (whereby the system shows more accessible rooms for sale than there actually are)? The cause of the issue can inform point 3 below.

Minimum Requirements

Another point is to work out what your minimum requirements are. In other words what is the minimum level of accessibility you require for a comfortable stay? For example, in my situation I could make a standard room (as opposed to an accessible room) work as long as I could fit my electric chair in, I mean I’d have to crawl to the bathroom, but I was willing to do that for a one night stay but I know for some people that’s not possible. What I’m saying here is you know your accessibility needs and don’t accept anything that you’re not comfortable with in terms of the accessibility you require.

Remain Calm

Now I’ll admit this next point is something I don’t always do, and I should probably start following my own advice, but it’s best to try and remain calm. Believe me, I know this is easier said than done as accessibility issues are BEYOND frustrating. But, in the case of issues caused by system errors (this is why it’s important to identify the cause of the issue in point 1), it is likely not to be the staff’s fault and yelling won’t change anything. Obviously getting some kind of resolution is necessary but it’s probably easier to do if you’re as calm as possible. Again, I know this one isn’t easy and I’m not the calmest person in the face of accessibility issues. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I was a pushover when it comes to lack of access.

Don’t Settle If You’re Not Happy

As I mentioned resolutions in the previous point. It’s important to remember you don’t have to settle for a hotel’s resolution to a problem if you’re not happy with it. For example, In my situation I was offered a move to another hotel with travel expenses paid for by the Travelodge, but I declined this as I’d picked my hotel due to its location, and by moving hotels I’d be losing the aforementioned location.

Keep Record of Issue(s) and Find Out Complaints Procedure

Finally, find out the complaints procedure (in my case it was an online form followed by some emails with the customer services team and it’s probably likely to be like this but make sure you know). Also, keep a record of the issue(s) in case you are delayed in making a complaint (e.g. Needing to wait until you return from a trip and have decent internet connection. A record can be kept through messages to friends and family (like I did) or a note in a notebook… Orrrrrr you could start a blog.

Hope these tips are of use to someone

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Kaiser Chiefs at Kingston Pryzm (Travel, Hotel and Venue Wheelchair Accessibility Review)

Another access review (of sorts), for this, I’m reviewing my entire experience as a solo, disabled, travelling gig goer for Kaiser Chiefs album release show at Kingston Pryzm. This means I’m putting a train/tube travel review, a hotel review and a venue access review all in one, so it’ll be a little different to my usual access reviews, but hopefully give a fuller picture of my experience.

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Train/Tube

Travelling on the hottest day on record (or the hottest July day on record? Either way it was bloody warm) , I expected to have travel issues using the train from Chippenham to London Paddington and back and then tubes and a bus across London, but to my surprise there were no issues. My tickets were booked through Trainline as usual. Then I ended up getting on an earlier train than my booked assistance, on both the outbound and return journey to try and negate any potential travel issues, and getting an earlier train proved to be no issue. Once I arrived at Paddington it was a case of taking 2 tubes and a bus to Kingston. Specifically, I took the Circle line from Paddington to Hammersmith, the District line from Hammersmith to Richmond and then a bus to Kingston and a short walk from there to the hotel.

Hotel

 I had some issues with my stay at Travelodge Kingston Upon Thames Central. Simply that I was not provided with the accessible room I had booked due to a system issue, but I made the situation work. On the whole, the room was functional, it was basic but good for a one night gig stay over sort of situation like I was doing. The one thing I couldn’t fault was the location as it was just a short walk from both the bus stop and the venue. It’s also worth saying that since this experience I’ve had a 50% refund on this stay and have had another stay in this hotel where I stayed in an accessible room with a full accessible wet room.

Venue

I hadn’t been to a Banquet Records show since the venue switch from the Hippodrome to Pryzm had been made. However, buying tickets was the same process of buying through the Banquet Records site and leaving a note re access needs in the booking notes. On the night, once I’d been through the ID check I made myself known to Banquet staff who took me around the metal detector and through the bag check. I was then taken up in a lift where the button had to be held the entire duration of the ride up. I think this is a better access format than it was at the Hippodrome as those who’ve read my Hippodrome review will know that access to the accessible viewing platform there was via a slightly questionable ramp. I was then taken to the specific disabled access boxes at Pryzm which I believe are higher up than the access platform at the Hippodrome and therefore provide a better view, they also involve not having to go down any sort of ramp like the one I mentioned earlier from the Hippodrome!

I hope this guide to my entire experience of this gig is helpful!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheel

Clayton Hotel Cardiff Wheelchair Accessibility Review

A hotel accessibility review of my stay in Clayton Hotel Cardiff for Cage Warriors 104 back in April!

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this hotel as a manual wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Booking

This booking process began with me ringing the hotel as I couldn’t find how to book an accessible room online and wondered if I was missing something. I was then told that all the accessible rooms were booked for the period of my stay, so I booked a standard room, knowing that was feasible with my manual wheelchair, and was told my booking would be moved to an accessible room if one became available.

Travel

The travel part was relatively simple as the hotel was a 15 minute or so walk from Cardiff Kingsway coach drop-off point once we’d arrived in Cardiff on Megabus from London.

Experience

The experience started before we’d even arrived at the hotel as they (the hotel) rang while I was on the coach to Cardiff to say that there was an accessible room available and that my booking had been moved to that room. When we checked in, the hotel completed a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) which, as the name suggests, is a document detailing how I’ll be evacuated in case of an emergency such as a fire. This was the first time I’d had a PEEP done whilst staying at hotel that I know of and it was certainly reassuring to know it had been done. The room itself was on the 3rd floor which, as far as I remember was the first floor which actually had guest rooms. There was large wet room bathroom which was a welcome change as not many accessible hotel rooms, from my experience, actually have wet room bathrooms, There was also an automatic door button to get into and out of the room which, unfortunately, didn’t work. That was disappointing but not a major problem for me as I had someone with me to help me in and out of the room, but I’m aware it could be a problem for someone else.

Overall, this is one of the most accessible hotels I’ve stayed in and I would definitely stay here again if I visited Cardiff again.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Travelling from Chippenham to London Paddington as a Wheelchair User? Here’s How I Did It (Again)

Here’s my review of my trip from Chippenham to London Paddington for London Graduate Fair 2019!

Outbound

Ticket Buying & Getting On at Chippenham

Tickets for both the outbound and the return trip were booked via Trainline with assistance booked separately over the phone. I then made myself known to staff at Chippenham at least 20 minutes before the train departure (official advice was 20 minutes but I’m always ahead of schedule). From there it was simply a case of waiting in the waiting room until my train arrived and then being put on the train using the ramp I’d prebooked. I was in First Class as that was where the wheelchair space I had been allocated was.

On Train

On the train, there was nothing much to report, other than a significant delay caused by signalling issues. This was, of course, no one’s fault but I thought it might cause a problem with getting prompt assistance off the train. Oh, and FREE COFFEE (did I mention I’m possibly slightly addicted to coffee?).

Disembarking & Leaving at London Paddington

When it came time to disembark the train, the train staff stayed with me until assistance staff arrived with the ramp (mere minutes later) . Staff then blocked either side of the ramp to try  and ensure that I did not have to knock over the other passengers who were exiting the train and walking past the end of the ramp.

Return

Getting On at London Paddington

I arrived 30 minutes before the train back to Chippenham as instructed. However, between arriving at the station and checking my phone on the train was a maximum of 10 minutes. It will always baffle me why I’m told to arrive 30 minutes beforehand when there’s proof (like this trip) that it can be done much quicker. I’d have been able to spend more time meeting my friend if I hadn’t had to be at the train station 30 minutes early!

On Train

Once again, on the train there was nothing much to report other than MORE free coffee (may I mention again I’m possibly slightly addicted to coffee?).

Disembarking & Leaving at Chippenham

On arrival at Chippenham, the train staff were aware of where I’d be disembarking the train. The train manager couldn’t see assistance staff as the train pulled into the station so they themselves got me off the train using the ramp stored in the train.

Hope you enjoyed this review of my stress free trip to London Paddington and back!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Travelling from London Euston to Birmingham University as a Wheelchair User? Here’s How I Did It

Photo Credit: Keshia Asare

This is a blog I should have gotten around to writing months ago, but anyway, here it is! My experience of travelling from London Euston to Birmingham University via Birmingham New Street with London North Western Railway and West Midlands Railways for Cage Warriors 98 in October.

Outbound

Ticket Buying & Getting On at London Euston

The tickets for this section from Euston to New Street was booked through the Virgin site on a weekend event deal of theirs and then collected from a station ticket machine. It was a fairly simple process in which I just selected the stations were travelling to/from, selected a specific train and paid and then collected the tickets at Euston station. While that was all done on one site, there was no option to reserve a wheelchair space on the site. Assistance was booked separately over the phone and I booked assistance, a ramp onto the train, for all 4 trains (Euston – New Street, then New Street to University, then the same in reverse for the return) in one call, and that was quite the task let me tell you! Getting to Euston itself was pretty simple, we just took the Metropolitan line from Uxbridge to Euston Square and walked to Euston.

When it came to boarding the train at Euston, I must admit I felt kind of ignored when trying to make myself known at the assistance desk. I understand that it’s a busy station but it’s always a little odd to have staff look at you and then not acknowledge that you’re waiting.

On Train

On the train, the wheelchair space was next to the toilet, which was an issue for a couple of reasons. 1. The door slammed every time it closed which set off my startle reflex (which I’ve discussed more here if anyone wants to understand more about that) 2. Sitting next to a toilet is just kind of gross and not something I wanted to do for over an hour. Luckily I’m able to transfer out of my wheelchair into a seat so that’s what I did on this occasion. The stop before New Street, I transferred back into my wheelchair to prepare to disembark. Not long after this, I felt someone grab the handle of my wheelchair and, being a big advocate of #JustAskDontGrab I was about to politely ask this person to let go when they collapsed onto me. At this point I realised the person had used my chair to prevent themselves from collapsing so I was less annoyed about the grab because frankly I’d do the same thing if I was in that position. However, it was still scary, as you can imagine, having someone collapsed on top of me and being unable to move or leave the train until he had been moved to a seat. Thankfully it was the train’s final stop, so staff were able to help the person and get me off the train without too much issue.

Ticket Buying & Changing Trains at Birmingham New Street

The tickets for the New Street to University train were booked via Trainline but the assistance was still booked separately over the phone. In terms of getting between trains, we were simply walked through the station by the staff member who’d assisted us off the train from London.

On Train, Disembarking & Leaving at University

The journey itself was only short, so I simply parked in an unoccupied wheelchair space. When it came time to disembark, we were instantly met off the train with a ramp, so disembarking was completely uncomplicated which is just the way I like it, but it’s surprising how rarely that actually happens.

Just to explain the jump here, we were supposed to get the train back from University to New Street but ended up skipping that section of the journey as a friend dropped us directly at New Street. Pro Tip: inform the assistance staff if you’re not going to be taking a certain journey! We arrived at New Street to mildly frantic assistance staff wondering what had happened and why we weren’t on the train from University. I can admit that it’d completely slipped my mind to inform them because, frankly I didn’t expect them to be there to assist anyway! Which was obviously an error on my part but pretty neatly sums up how assistance usually works (or more often doesn’t) as a wheelchair user on the railways.

Return

Getting On at Birmingham New Street

In terms of getting to the station, we were dropped in one of the station carparks. We then got to the station level using the oldest, smallest, most rickety lift I’d ever seen in my entire life. I honestly thought we’d end up stuck. From there we made our way to the assistance desks to request the assistance I’d prebooked to get onto the train.

On Train

On the train, I was again seated next to the toilet so, again, I transferred out onto a standard seat to avoid the constantly slamming door.  Later in the trip, we were found by the train staff and informed that my chair would need to be folded and removed from the wheelchair space if someone who was staying in their wheelchair required it. Of course, that was completely fine and what I’d have done even if the staff had not mentioned it, it’s just common courtesy as far as I see. As it happened my chair did not end up having to be folded.

Disembarking & Leaving at London Euston

When it came time to leave the train at Euston, we ended up waiting around 10 minutes for assistance, which is around the standard waiting time for assistance by my experience (it shouldn’t be, but it is). When assistance did turn up I was greeted with “do you need a ramp?!” (bearing in mind I’d already prebooked assistance WITH A RAMP). I must admit it took all of my self-control not to sarcastically reply “nah mate I’ll just levitate off the train”. Silly questions lead to sarcastic answers. We were eventually let off the train and allowed to go on our way.

I hope you enjoyed this long overdue tale of my adventures to Birmingham on the train!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Campanile Hotel Cardiff Wheelchair Accessibility Review

Photo Credit: Cardiff Campanile Website

A hotel accessibility review this time! This one’s a review of the Campanile Hotel in Cardiff following our stay in December.

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Booking

The booking process was fairly simple. I was able to book our room online and just put “wheelchair accessible room” in the requests section on the booking form. The hotel then rang later that day confirming that an accessible room had been put aside for us and outlining some of the accessibility issues we may face. These included the fact there was ramp/ gradient slope between the car park and the rest of the hotel grounds and that there was only a bath in the bathroom and not a shower. I was ok with these issues as it was only an overnight stay and I appreciated being warned about access issues prior to arriving.

Travel

In terms of travel, we took the Megabus from London Victoria to Cardiff Kingsway and then, due to the out of town location of the hotel, basically took Ubers everywhere. When I say everywhere, I mean we went from town to the hotel, then from the hotel to the event venue (the event being Cage Warriors 100) and then from the venue post event back to the hotel. The following morning, we finally worked out the buses and took the bus from the hotel to town. For those of you wondering, the buses have a fold out ramp at the front (to be folded out by the driver) and a wheelchair space with a fold out seat for the companion to sit with the wheelchair user. 

Experience

The first thing I noticed when arriving at the hotel was that the rooms were separated, as in physically in a different building, from the main reception, this was not what I was expecting having stayed at other Campanile hotels. The next thing to notes was the steepness of that ramp I mentioned earlier. It was REALLY quite steep, I appreciate that I’d already been warned about it, but it was quite difficult for my friend to push me up and down, so if there is any alternative route or any way to improve access I’d be open to helping figure something out. There was also an, albeit small, step into reception which my friend had to lift me over. While I had my friend with me this time, it did make me aware how difficult it would it be if I was by myself (even if it only seems like a small issue). The most annoying issue was that my wheelchair didn’t fit in the bathroom in a way that allowed me to also shut the door. You really can’t call a room fully wheelchair accessible if I have to get out of my chair and crawl to the bathroom!

Overall, while the booking process was simple and there’s some awareness of access issues at the hotel, a better understanding of the true meaning of “wheelchair accessible” would be welcome, and, as always, I’m willing to help the hotel improve their wheelchair access.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)