For Millie's Birthday we bought tickets for her and a friend to go to the T4 concert in London at Earls Court, she wanted One Direction tickets but they were sold out within minutes! So it was to be a bit of Ed Sheeran, Pixie Lott, Jessie J, The Wanted, Dappy & Example thank you very much! :O) We had a fab, but very long, day.
After we missed out on One Direction tickets, we were desperate not to miss out on T4 tickets, there aren't many concerts around December, Millie's birthday month, we didn't want to end up at a pantomime! Caz rang and rang and rang the disability line and eventually got through only to find the system was down and they promised to ring us back. I don't want Millie to look back on her childhood and feel it was restricted because of my disability, so I was keen to get tickets bought before they were sold out - the plan was if there were no wheechair spaces left that Caz would just get abo seats and I would stay at home. They did eventually ring back and had reserved us a wheelchair space and one other!!!!! In short we had to be split up! So we asked if there were steps to the area for standing, there weren't, so we bought 4 standing tickets in with everyone else :O)
That reminds me of one of the best concerts I've ever been too. I arrived pretty early at a Levellers concert at Middlesbrough Town Hall and found myself right in the middle, just one person behind the front! I raised my powerchair to the top and sang at the top of my voice. A guy I'd never met before took it upon himself to protect me from the crowds behind and to the side and i swayed and bounced with the rest of the crowd - it was wicked!
Anyway back to T4, we didn't head to the mosh pit, we had to act responsibily, we had two children with us!!!! As there were lots of different acts there were lots of gaps between the acts - everyone had Iphones and Ipods that were being used to take photos as well as playing games to pass the time so we were all very grateful for my charging socket on my dragon.
As T4 Stars is a one day event we had to travel to London. Although I travel to London by train quite often for work purposes I had never travelled on a Sunday. In the week you can get to London from Middlesbrough way before 9am. On a Sunday you can't!
We found out if we drove to York, about an hours drive, we could catch the first train from there that got us to London at around 11am. Darlington is my station of choice, nothing is ever a problem, the staff are always helpful and friendly. York is the complete opposite! York station is, in fact, the reason for this blog post, on this occasion though, the incident that adds to the reasons that, in my opinion, York should win 'Worst Station Award' didn't happen until our return journey.
We travelled from Kings Cross to Earl's court smoothly via two buses and a short walk, anyone that knows me well knows how much I love the fact that the majority of buses in London are now wheelchair accessible and I love the independence this brings. They will also know how much I hate using London Black Cabs (and not just in London), another blog post is needed for reasons for this. Therefore getting a taxi just wasn't an option.
We left Earls Court with 10,000 odd other people! We successfully crossed the flow of people heading towards Earls Court tube station, unfortunately not yet accessible. As a child neither the buses or the trains were wheelchair accessible (unless you count being lifted up the steps into the guards van on a train with all the parcels and bikes). The tube stations are being slowly updated (there are a number of step free tube stations) and, at the start of 2011 on New Years Day I was really excited to travel one stop by tube to Westminster, to watch the News Years Day Parade :O)
Anyway once out of Earls Court we realised we needed to walk away from the venue before we could get a bus - the fact the roads were closed to traffic gave us a big hint! We did get a bus and had a quick whistle stop tour of Harrods, there were steps everywhere, I spend most off my time trying to find a ramped route to the toy department, they could have done with having a step free department map!!!!!
We went for a birthday tea at Chicago Rib Shack before getting our final bus to Kings Cross. We were taken to an alternative entrance with a narrow staircase and scary platform lift, but we were treated like royality! They were fab!
We finished our ribs, cleaned our hands and faces and caught what was supposed to be our last bus to the station. It was raining heavily and the lovely waiter had given us an umbrella that had been left in lost property, to get to the bus stop :O) We hadn't long before our train was due to leave so we were relieved to be on the bus back ... until the bus driver pulled in and told everyone
"The bus is terminating, get on the one parked in front!"
OK no problem off this bus straight on to another, no problem!!!! Last time this happened by the time I had got off the bus the other bus was so full I had to squeeze in and sit by the door (not in the designated space - it's OK if everyone looks like sardines apparently!) By the time the doors had shut and opened and the ramp beeped its way out everyone else was off. I drove down the ramp to see the bus in front leave! Then, while asking the driver what to do now, with an 'I told you something like this would happen sound to my voice' the bus behind, that the driver was now suggesting I could use, pulled out and over took and in the moment we turned in shock to watch this happen our original bus took off! We were accompanied by two ten year old's so no swearing, there wasn't alot we could scream at the bus!!!!
Another bus did eventually arrive and we waffled something at the driver about why Caz wasn't buying another ticket for this bus journey (me & the two kids were free - I can still find reasons to take the bus over a taxi). We arrived at Kings Cross with less than 10 mins, assistance was booked but they ask you to be there 20min before, we ran through the station and what seemed like a mile up the platform to make our train to York.
Assistance that provides a ramp off the train was waiting at York, so there was no need for Caz to stand with one foot on the train and the other on the platform to stop the train pulling off with me still aboard. I was waiting at the door when it opened to face two guards and was greeted by
With that down went the ramp and one of the rude men boarded the train and tried to grab the back of my Dragon! I insisted I'd be fine, he only backed off when Caz gave him the angry 'get your hands off' stare. As I started to move forward to drive down the ramp forwards, which for me is the easiest and safest method, with Caz pre briefed and in position at the bottom of the ramp, the second man lunged towards me, his hand looking dangerously like it was heading towards my control, that was hidden by my lovely cape! My reactions were spot on and at that I reversed away from the ramp and back into the train carriage, whilst telling hom NOT to touch me! Actions obviously do speak louder than words as after that I drove MYSELF down the ramp and onto the platform with no further interference!
I am finishing this post while I am travelling by train to Edinburgh, I changed trains at Darlington - the best station in the world! But that's a whole other post!