Friday, 15 April 2016

Money, money money

We're off to Denmark* on our holidays, so I dug out the Danish coins in our random coins jar.

The small Scottish boy had a look through some of the others - I have lira, Deutschmark, Belgian Franc, Guilder and even some Czechoslovak and Soviet coins (bonus points for having not only currencies which no longer exist, but ones from countries which no longer exist). Also, for some unknown reason, I have about 10Fr in 10 and 20 centime coins.

Anyway, conferred with the Nationalbanken website to see if the Danish coins were still OK. They all are, except the old style 25øre and 5øre but they had been withdrawn in 1991 when I got them.

I don't have any notes, which is good, because they've been replaced twice since I lived there. The new ones have bridges (real ones, not the Euro fake ones) on one side and Viking things on the other.

I was impressed though that the last series (which I'd not really looked at - they were just coming out when I left in 1999) was gender balanced - given the debate about having just one woman (aside from the Queen) on bank notes generates here. There were five notes, so the 1000kr had Anna and Michael Ancher. Karen Blixen, Carl Nielsen, Johanne Luise Heiberg (who was played by Sidse Babett Knudsen in 1864) and Niels Bohr were on the others.

The ones before, the ones I know from living there, are the 1972 series. All but one of those have women on. Prior to that was a portrait series of all men. I do wonder if any other nation has had as many physicists on it's notes - Bohr, Ørsted and Rømer have all featured down the years.

*Yes, I know, Abba are Swedish. Three years of Scandinavian Studies at University here! Our plans also include a quick visit to Sweden one evening for dinner. I've been there just once, for a few hours one Easter Sunday in the 90s. I had no Swedish money with me, but as nothing was open, it didn't matter.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


Frustratingly, though Copenhagen's streets are fantastic for cyclists, they're a bloody nightmare for wheelchair users.  It's so tempting to head up that beautiful smooth cycle path but when I briefly did, because the footpath was blocked by parked cycles, I got shouted at (and shouted back I might add!).

So I've struggled along with those rows of cobbles which are almost exactly the width of my chair apart.  Even with the freewheel, the least worst option is to follow the cobbles with it.  This is pretty good path.  Most are half the width and very uneven.

Also, when everyone cycles, there are as many arseholes cyclists as arsehole drivers.

Saturday, 2 April 2016


Going through my photographs is a good way of remembering the blog posts I've written in my head but which I've not managed to actually write on screen yet.  This picture was the prompt for my first solo business trip in my new job.

A conference on children's right to play took me to Belfast, by plane.  It was the first time I've travelled completely alone by plane since I got the wheelchair but after last year's Paris trip I wasn't too worried.  It was also great that no one at my work hesitated about me going for a second.  The assumption was that if I thought I could manage, that was fine.  The cup in the picture is from the dinner the night before, which was held at the Titanic Belfast.

I flew across on FlyBe .  Work booked the flight and indicated I need assistance and then the airline contacted us and asked me to complete an information form with the dimensions of my wheelchair (assembled and broken down) and my assistance needs.  It was the first time I've needed to provide so much detail - but it's a pretty small plane.  At both airports (Edinburgh and Belfast City/George Best) I made myself known to the assistance team, confirmed I needed the ambulift as there wouldn't be an airbridge, but wouldn't need the aisle chair (I'm learning the routine!), then said I would meet them at the gate at the agreed time.  They were both fine with this - an improvement from a few years ago when they didn't seem to like you getting out of their control.  

I'd booked late and wasn't able to get into the same hotel as the rest of the conference delegates and with the Premier Inn right by the Titanic Belfast fully booked, picked the Hilton as being the nearest to the airport, Titanic and the right side of the city for the conference venue.  It was slightly dearer than the Premier Inn but not much.  Really spacious hotel room and really accessible while still being comfortable and fully furnished (I once stayed in a room where all the furniture had been removed to make it accessible!)

The conference itself was at Cultra Manor, which is within the grounds of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (which is a massive site - mostly wooded and very beautiful on a sunny spring day).  It's a lovely venue with good access - nice ramp and a proper lift.  Lovely view across Belfast Lough.

The only disappointment of the trip was the taxis.  I'm used to cities, certainly in Britain, having plenty of London taxis.  It's pretty easy to just lift the chair in.  Private Hire cars are usually hatchbacks or estates, with plenty of room.  However in Belfast most of the taxis were very large, mostly upmarket saloon cars - Audis, Mercedes. VWs.  I discovered that my wheelchair would not fit in an Audi A6's boot, even with the wheels off and the back folded.  There was also a real scarcity of wheelchair accessible taxis.  As a result, I was advised by both the main taxi companies that I would need to request an estate car (station wagon) - at an extra cost of £5.  The Northern Irish contingent at the conference were horrified but it seems there are some ongoing issues with taxi companies treatment of disabled people in Northern Ireland.