Thursday, 22 July 2010

Early Learning Centre

My friend Linz has blogged today about sexism at the Early Learning Centre. I think she has said it better than I could, but I added my thoughts in a comment.

My friend Vonnie also blogged today about why she won't be shopping at the Early Learning Centre anymore.

Disabled parking

There could be a whole other post about people who use disabled spaces but do not have a disabled badge, but that has been well covered elsewhere by a lot of people.

What I have been thinking about, however is the design of disabled spaces. These vary so much. Some are excellent - located at the right place, nice wide buffer zones either side (cross hatched out so no one parks on them) but others are abysmal. It turns out, that is pretty much the standard, as demonstrated by the very helpful factsheet on Hampshire County Council's website. The Scottish rules are the same, but don't have pictures. The cross-hatching on one side can be a problem for me, if its on the passenger side mostly because reversing into parking spaces has never been my strong point!

The most common annoyance is when the disabled space is merely a standard sized space with a sign. I'm not a wheelchair user, but I do have to swing my door wider than normal to get out, since I need to plant both feet on the ground together. This is not unusual and the benefit is to the car next to me as well as I don't accidentally dent it (FWIW this is also the reason parent & child places exist - it stops the parent denting the next car over while leaning in to fasten the child in).

More than once I've come back to one of these spaces to discover another driver has parked so close to the side of my car I can't get back in. A "normal" person might be able to, but I can't. So frustrating.

Finally, a picture from our holiday, which made me smile.


Wednesday, 21 July 2010


So, we're not long back from France, which should give me material for several posts I guess.

Our holiday this year was shared with a friend and her son and partner. The first weekend was a bit hectic. Friday, 25th June was the last day of school for L and also the day of the Bo'ness Fair. L had been dropped at school at 9am, so a frantic couple of hours were spent by me, packing the car and doing the last tidying jobs, because to make it more complicated, a new heating system and new bathroom were being installed while we were gone.

At 11, I headed along to the Town Hall for the official ceremony, where the new Fair Queen was crowned and various displays took place. Then back along the road for an hour's uncomfortable wait for the parade. L's school nominated the Queen this year so his school led the parade and as the youngest boy in Primary 1, he led his school, just after the flag bearers. Here he is, enjoying a pre-parade gingerbread man, with his teacher.


Once I'd collected him from school at the end of the parade, we hit the road, making it to Oxford in 7 hours, pretty much exactly. The reason for our rush was that the following day we had tickets for They Might Be Giants, who were doing a kids' show at the Royal Festival Hall. We drove into London, the Southbank Centre being nice enough to provide free parking to disabled badge holders attending concerts (but beware - in the above ground carpark there are no actual disabled spaces - Hayward Gallery carpark might be better).

Central London driving is busy, sure, but I never find it as bad as people think. That may be the Auckland trained driver in me coming out! Although there is no congestion charge on a Saturday anyway, cars with a disabled exempt tax disc are exempt from it at all times.

The concert was great, the venue also, but I have a wee gripe in that, although I'd asked if there were time to go to the loo before the show and been told there was, we were told we'd have to go to the back of the hall and climb down the stairs to get back in - luckily someone came out then and I just went in anyway. Oh and there are *NOT ENOUGH LIFTS* - especially when half the crowd have buggies!

Sunday morning we got up at "OMG o'clock" to get an 8:15 ferry from Portsmouth. I do like Brittany Ferries and last year's trip had taught me the lesson of specifying we needed access to the lift (which got us a special sticker and we had to put hazards on so the loaders spotted it) and also a cabin nearer the centre of the boat. Last year, we were stuck at the farthest edge of the ship, a long walk to and from the cabin and that was an overnight crossing!

The rest of Sunday was a longish (about 6 hours) drive down the west of France to our first stop, Les Charmettes a campsite a wee bit south of La Rochelle. More of which, later...

Saturday, 17 July 2010

First post

Well, the inevitable first post. What to say? I've been thinking about this idea for a while, as various things have happened and I have thought "I should blog about that". My old general purpose but non-public blog has been neglected but I do like the idea of a more public forum for this sort of stuff. So, this seemed the ideal time to start it - apart, of course, from the 2,500 word essay about direct payments (see - relevance!) due on Tuesday night...

Why Pollyanna? Well, the link with crutches is obvious! A few weeks ago, right when I started using crutches (still had just my NHS ones) I was at a meeting at work and my then-boss started talking about being "Pollyanna-ish" about our current financial situation. I was about ready to hand him my crutches the third time! What I do want to take from Pollyanna though is the idea of making the best of things, not letting it get me down. It's something I am working hard on in myself, but I'm hoping to get there.

I am hoping to blog about how I work my way through this new world of being more disabled, but also more enabled, because now I accept I need more help I am less restricted than I was. Inevitably I am sure other things will come up and I am hoping to mostly blog about doing other stuff through the lens of someone who uses crutches (or whatever the future may hold) rather than depressing posts about medical this and that. There's definitely a post or two in the works about my recent holiday in France. And one about my beloved car. And another about the relevant merits of French crutches, compared to their NHS counterparts.