The heated area in relation to motion

I have never been a fan of heating things up without necessity.  Coffee requires heating.  So do jacket potatoes.  Pasta.  Coke doesn’t. Neither does salt and vinegar crisps.  Car seats (or wheelchair seats). 

Or so I thought.

I confess that this morning I put a heated towel on my wheelchair to sit on after my shower (its a second one, because I put one around me on so that I don’t sit my bare bum on the cushion – its just not done).  Anyway – both heated.

I had my shower and had that freezing jet of air hit me as I stagger out of the wet area.  I then put a warm towel around me and sat with on the second…

Oh my gosh. Oh wow. Oh – yes.

This should be an option on all wheelchairs – heated seat first thing on a cooler morning.

Oh yes.


The Transportation Transition Experiment

I believe its probably fair to say that I get on quite well with Greater Anglia… in the most part. Sometimes I get a little frustrated with them when my train is late or when I buy my ticket in the morning and see, once again, that it is really just daylight robbery… that’s my opinion and I realise others – like Sheila or Bruce – might have other opinions.  However, sometimes I am out there on my own and I need to get on with it.

Like yesterday, for example.  I knew the signs were there that it was going to be a serious slog on the iron road.  Little things – trains being cancelled due to a fault, the day being a Thursday, signs saying “it’ll be a hard slog today” and so on.  Oh – and a train ticket that said “Braintree”.  I’d been asked to go at short notice – no time to book the journey there and definitely way of knowing what time I should return – this is not a slur on Braintree, just I’d not been there before.

To kick off, it seemed that Lady Luck (one of the guys at Witham) was on my side – I arrived in to Witham in the morning and in seconds… alright – two minutes – I was off the train, over the bridge and on to the next train out – they held it for me.  I was (and still am) grateful. 

I got to Braintree about 9:10 or so, assisted by a driver rather than the ticket office staff who were caught up in a micro rush. Coffee there, by the way – 80p more than Clacton station.  I got on and took some photos as it was a nice day before heading off to a school in Bocking for a Try a Bus Day.

I value these days – they help a lot of people spark that first step – often the next is travel training.  But that first introduction to the bus (or train) is a key element – done correctly, it sets the idea going that a person can travel.  I think its vital work. 

After this and a meeting (and lunch) I headed back to the station, my charmed existence running out by this time.  It was 16:15.  When I got to the station, I found it was unstaffed. Empty. Deserted.  Devoid of human members of the Greater Anglia fraternity. People had gone home. There would be no fandango.  Beeching had swung his axe. It was an ex-staff afternoon. There was no one there.  It is an unstaffed station.

Its in times like this that many people would either panic, sit tight and hope it would turn out ok or go home.

I turned to twitter.  “@greateranglia arrived at Braintree. No staff here! HELP!”  Bearing in mind that there had been an incident on two other lines – one involving a serious accident and another involving serious signals – I wasn’t hopeful.  But I regularly tweet them, so I crossed my fingers. And my legs. I might have been a little bit busting, as Monkey would say.

A few minutes later I got a reply: “Just calling them now”… and then, a message via the great unknowns of DM: “Call us – [number]”. 

This was new – but a quick way to sort it.  I called, established with them that there was no one there.  The guy on the phone – GK was also on the phone to Witham, who had put a ramp on the next train coming up with the guard.  This meant that i could get on my train with the assistance I need.

This does raise a question for me though – what if I didn’t know the Greater Anglia staff as well as I do? What happens if someone else finds themselves stranded?  Very few train operators leave their twitter accessed after 7-8PM, so what happens later at night?  If there was ever support for a business case needed – surely this is the key item to support it.

Some might argue I should book – but there is no requirement for me to book as I only require a ramp to access the train, therefore no actual other assistance.  Couple that with the unpredictability of my work travel and its rare I can and do book.

I got home bang on time – thanks to the quick reactions of the people on Twitter at Greater Anglia. It shows that once again Social Media is useful.  I just hope others have the confidence to do the same as I did in the future and that train companies react in the same way Greater Anglia did for me. 

The Mercutio Analysis

Anguish and pain filled me yesterday whilst I was sat on the sofa, my faithful steed sat on its haunches (yes, it has haunches) beside me waiting to jump into action, when I discovered a fairly deep scratch of painful proportions.

Bearing in mind that this wheelchair is still very new (especially for me) and something that I want to really look after, this scratch on the Xenon hit me like a knife to the chest. 

After blaming all and sundry, I look a close look only to see that this deep mark holds all the hallmarks of my cursed enemy – doors. Its height is perfect to match up to a kick plate.  The cut could only have been achieved with metal on metal contact, like the stuff they make in Port Tybalt Talbot.

Having discussed this issue with fellow chair users online, I think I am off to Halfords for a touch up paint kit for a car… because Sunrise don’t do them for the wheelchair.  I can’t help but feel a trick was missed there.  Although I’ll get it out, I’ll always know it was there though.  Battle scars and all.

The space-time-wedding band continuum

I hate waking up once I’m in either a good sleep or a semi good sleep but very warm.  However, waking up and seeing :44 on my clock made me think “Oh crikes!” (Not strictly true but you know, universal rating of a blog post), you can imagine the nice surprise when my brain clocks (clocks, get it?!) the great big red 5 next to it – a whole 30 minutes left to doze!

From there, my morning descended.  My towel for my shower was cold and unwelcoming, the wheelchair covered in cat hair thanks to the resident mog.  I had to replace the head on my toothbrush because it was covered in blonds strands of Monkey hair.

I usually go on the motto of “if I’m having to suffer I’d prefer not to go through it alone” but frankly, MBW would be pretty hacked off at getting up after a night with Nuzzle and Scratch playing “how much sleep can we deprive Mummy of”.  So I got on with it.  Heating on (sorry MBW), towel warmed – shower, drip dry, teeth brushed, spray odorant (wet crip) on to my towel, beard fresher on to the wheelchair – I’m good to go provided I’m visiting a naturist reserve.

WP_000090I find my clothing with little problems, making a mental note to get more trousers in for dry cleaning and remembering to grab my work pass.  Lunch out the fridge, glance down and where the Fallugian protestor is my wedding ring?”

I wheel into the bedroom and hunt through yesterdays trousers, turning up only a little red round lego light brick (which I have put back in my ring pocket on my cargo trousers – do not let me forget) and a Trading Standards Buy With Confidence trolley coinage thing.  Crumbs. 

I dash into the bathroom, not spying it amongst the wealth of toothbrushes, toothbrush heads, toiletries and whatever the heck that sticky stuff is on the base of the mirror – I don’t want to know, its blue, its gooey and frankly looks a little like it could be a new life form but I do not want to know right now it is 07:15 and I am running out of time and my taxi will be here in a minute and I want to go out the door looking like I might actually be married god help the woman who is married to this one.

009_pooh_thoughtful_spot-1-In instances where you have lost something, you should consider what Winnie the Pooh might do in this instance.  Find a nice place to call your thinking spot.  A pot of honey to help lubricate the cranial juices.  Relax to allow your self to cast your mind back and…

The bloody cat has got it.  She’s located it on the kitchen windowsill, where I put it last night to wash up and is playing with it. I dash in hissing at her to bugger off.  On the one morning when hissing should work, she ignores me and nudges it on to the kitchen side (remind me to disinfect beside the sink) and along as I now have to stand for a moment and wobble towards her.  She looks up – I swear she winks at me – giving it one last kick towards the gap between the cooker and the side, it turning up on to the outer edge and rolling, rolling, rolling…

it rolls to the edge and stops.   No body breathe.  The cat, guessing her nine lives could be cut down rapidly, makes a brisk exit towards a hiding place I have yet to discover.  I grab at the ring, shoving it on to the correct finger and therefore confirm my place in this wedlock as the husband.

I shove my lunch in my bag, grab keys, pass, phones and laptop and leave, returning only for my coat and shoes.

The education quandary

I’m always looking to further myself and learn.  I believe its part of life.  Many things are left for me to learn…

Apparently sharing is one of them.  This came about because of an acquaintance of mine called Sheila.  Allow me to explain.

Sheila told on a Social Micro-Blogging site about how she had seen a friends house that was adapted to enable someone to live independently – sinks you can wheel under, wet room, flat access, laminate flooring.  So I told her I had all of these toys… and they are all mine.  MBW told me off about this and said I had to learn to share my toys.  Sheila agreed.

Then I got a new wheelchair and Sheila admired it.  I warned Sheila that if I were to see her, she could have a little go, but I am a little possessive over my new toy and I might not let it be anything more than a little go.  Sheila told me I need to learn to share.  MBW agreed.

Now I have got my new laptop.  My Grandmother, when I told her, asked if I was sharing it with MBW.  I explained I was… sometimes.  A little bit.  Once a week. Month. Jupiter Lunar Eclipse.  My Grandmother told me that I need to learn to share.  MBW agreed.  I’ve not told Sheila about this.

So far, what have I learnt?  Well, I suspect MBW and Sheila are in cahoots for one thing.  This is all too similar for my liking.  When pushed on it, both Sheila and MBW seem to laugh.

I explained all of this to my colleague at work.  He wasn’t sympathetic, telling me that one person telling me something is opinion, two people telling me the same is coincidence, but three is that there could be something there.  I think he’s right…

I think I need to… umm… help people by… not telling them about my toys.

Yeah.  That’s the one. 

MBW thinks I’m wrong.  I’m not telling Sheila or my Grandmother.

The Momentum Upon Steel Alloy Propulsion Formula

Its not often I’ll blog about a service unless I think its been something to note.  So, the following is a positive post about a recent journey – I paid for it, I made it and this is what happened.  Continue reading

The Oxidane Solidification

I’m not, by any stretch, a fan of anything cold unless it comes out of a beer tap and is called beer.  I’m just a bit of a grumpy old man when it comes down to it.  In fact, I’m a bit more than “just a bit” – but that is by the by.

I’m a complete grumpus when it comes to snow.  Snow and I do not get along.  It would be correct if I said:

I consider snow to be like a beach – only fun for those watching me try to manoeuvre in it.

If you’ve not got it – I really am not into the white stuff (snow).

You can only imagine my joy at 07:00 on a Sunday morning to hear MBW exclaim “Oh look, how exciting… wake up Doink! There’s snow!”  I recall now that I tried to mumble something to show that I understand her excitement but don’t wish to participate at such a time that really should only exist if you have a flight to catch to somewhere without any snow.  That wasn’t enough, and MBW had to wake up Monkey – who after a cup of tea joined in the excitement – shortly to be joined by Nuzzle and Scratch. 

But here is why I don’t like snow – its not the fact its cold (contributing but not definitive) nor the fact it brings all the trains to a stand (that is the fault of BREL) – its the fact I cannot go anywhere in the humming stuff.

snow-2Whilst everyone is out taking picturesque photographs of their loved ones and their pets frolicking around in the ice and snow, leaving trails of their welly boots and building humanoid resemblances at best or at worst, humpty dumpty post fall, I am invariably kissed on the cheek, told excitedly “snow!” and a request is made for hot chocolates or tea to be prepared when they all return before I am abandoned for a fleeting visitor whos loyalty to the British winter season is about that of a climate change policy in an Oil Refinery.

If I try to go out, my wheelchair will instead end up wedged into the ice and snow, beached like I were a whale on a… beach.  (I couldn’t think of a better analogy.)  Or have ice wedged in every crevice on the wheelchair.  Or find snow inside my arms in seconds.  And have to be rescued every 10 seconds and parked back in my spot the camera and the instructions of “just sit there and take some photos of everyone looking happy.”

snow-1This year, I partook by sitting in a bedroom window and taking photos of the fun.  My only consolance was that Scratch also didn’t quite get into either, but I suspect that is just as fleeting as the white stuff and next year she’ll be out there with the rest of them.

I’ll be the one inside.  But its ok. 

It gives me a chance to catch up on the sleep I lost in the morning.

The Superhero Complex

superdadOur hero (that is I) returns home from a day of saving the world (although how in the name of heck a planet can get into so much peril I do not know).  Clad in blue lycra, a flapping red cape (even with no wind) and underpants complete with a pair of socks stuffed down inside – and a gilet, because it can get cold at 18,000 feet, what with there being no oxygen and all.

I step in, to note that Bynx the Cat (my adversary in this world, other than Dr Evil) was having a good nose around my daughters bedroom – Monkey, Nuzzle and Scratch along with MBW are nowhere to be seen.  I decide to act quickly, grabbing the water pistol and heading in to deal with the cat.  Spraying Bynx quickly seems to send her scuttling – and with good reason. 

My x-ray vision catches sight of a hamster behind a dolls house – it had escaped from its cage.  I corner Pinky Dinky Doo into the dolls house, planning on shutting the doors to keep it there when I notice the doors and windows are missing (damned squatters).  I grab at the hamster, keep not to let it escape into the jaws of a cat – one minute its accomplice, helping it break free in the same vein as a murderer in Redditch, the next turning on it like a newspaper reporter hunting for a scoop.  Pinky Dinky Doo, unaware of my good intentions, takes its jaws to my right hand, ripping apart the skin leaving my super hero blood dripping out.  “Golly Gosh” I exclaim (!), trying to put Pinky Dinky Doo into a pocket to make him safe whilst I fly him up to the top of his cage – glancing up to the top of the 16ft structure identifies they broke open the transportation tube.  Pinky Dinky Doo is not keen on this idea though, so I try to nestle Pinky Dinky Doo in my left hand. 

“Oh no,” squeaks Pinky Dinky Doo in shock and gnaws at my left arm, leaving my hands crimson in a shade that matches my cape.

“Oh my word,” I exclaim.  There is no time to loose – my superhero blood is toxic to any living thing on this planet.  I quickly place the escapee into a laundry basket and place it into a secure hold wet room. 

Just then MBW walks in.  “Oh my word,” she cries.  “What happened?! Oh no!  I think I might faint.  Phone the Police! No! Phone the Mayor!  Put out the Bat Signal.”

“Hold it there, fair maiden,” I boom in deep tones that Terry Wogan dreamed of at 06:30 in the morning in his Radio 2 days.  “Fear not, t’is but a scratch.  I shall go to get some Super Hero Attention from a Medical type person in a moment.  But first, I do not want to change the colour of our good friend Pinky Dinky Doo.  Please, step in there and return him to his home.”  I indicate to the strong hold.  “And the Bat Signal is for Bruce next door.  We need to talk later.”

“Oh, ok,” says MBW, stepping into the secure area.  She picks up Pinky Dinky Doo and steps out of the green zone, nodding to the Police Officers who stood guard outside the room.  (Hang on – was the Police officers a step too far?  Ignore them.) He looks at her adoringly and goes with her, squeaking a thanks to her as he goes into his cage – forgetting it was I who saved him.

WP_000018I fly to Super Hero A+E, get 15 super hero stitches down my left arm, a superglue in my right arm and return two superhero hours later – which is actually 2 seconds in Human time.  MBW looks and admires the sutures as my arm heals before her eyes – a Super Hero Benefit.  “I’d better make the tea then,” she says, skipping into the kitchen in her 1950’s dress.  “Go fetch Daddies’ slippers, someone!”

“Hold on,” says I.  “What about Pinky Dinky Doo?  He is not safe with the villain around.”

“I’ll put a call in to the Mayor via Facebook.” She murmours.  “What a good thing you were here…” 

The Mayor responded quickly.  “I have found a good home for Pinky Dinky Doo.  A lovely lady called Sheila will be arriving tomorrow.”

“A good home?  What constitutes that?” Asks MBW. 

“If they don’t turn up in a van marked Sheila and Sons Furriers, it’s good enough.” I boomed.  “Good work, Mayor.” 

And so Pinky Dinky Doo goes off into the sunset, safe in a new secure home.  Our hero’s work once again complete.

The Xenon Isotopes

xenon-001Its been a while since I blogged but that I’ll come to in another post. I’ve been with another Sunrise Quickie Xenon since Tuesday – this one with a set of 4 inch casters, drop down handles and an auto-folding footrest.  It also has the optional Frog Leg suspension casters.

As some people know, I’ve been finding this Xenon a much nicer experience than the last time – it has the less-raked front as well and feels a lot more comfortable to use.  It rolls just as nicely as last time.  One thing to confirm – this has pockets on the back and a security pouch on the front like the last one.

xenon-003My typical day will start with going on the train – this chair does it well and will climb the step without the ramp if need be.  This chair is quite composed on the train – it feels really stable and sturdy.  The brakes work well, which is a bonus(!) and the chair moves a lot more neatly in the tight spaces.

Once off the train, in the lift, out the lift and then this is where it does get interesting.  This chair takes no effort to get going and rolls nicely.  It goes nicely down the hill and doesn’t stop until I get to the crossing, which doesn’t require any extra oomph to get going again to get across quickly.  In fact, this chair is fairly smooth all the way to work.

xenon-002So, a tick in the box? Yes, near enough – although I think I am possibly getting too used to the Frog Legs. 

Going through the day, I find its sitting position is not too bad, considering I will usually transfer.  I sat through several meetings, went out for a roll about at lunch and wasn’t fed up by 17:00 – time to go home.

Fall down time – if you have someone tall to push you, they won’t like the folding handles. Its a hardship but if you’re 6ft tall, this is not the chair you want to push. I’ve just realised – “fall down time” – the handles don’t drop but you can see the profile difference.

Once up at the station, its not difficult to push along the platform, a quick shove up the ramp and I’m on the train again and off home. Now here is where I got quite fed up with the previous Xenon demonstrator.  Getting off the train, this chair has a less aggressive seating position and will do a roll back and jump off – without as much risk of killing myself as before.

So, it seems mostly positive? For the most part, it is – however there are some niggles, like the handles not level and a bit low down. The chair has a little bit of side instability (flex) like the Champion had but not as bad.  To lift it is a bit harder than the Champion, which you can pick up with one hand, this one has the seat in the way. Finally, this folds a lot bigger than the Champion and considering we have a VW Touran, it will take a lot of boot space up (a pain when you have a double buggy in the boot).

xenon-004So, some pluses and minuses – I have 3 days left with it.  I’ve really been enjoying the extra pockets, which saves me scrabbling around in mine for my keys.  Do I think I know?  I’m not sure. I was furiously against the previous Xenon, it had irritated me to the point of being prepared to put an order straight in for a Champion. I nearly cancelled this demonstration. But in the Champion, I found myself foot-steering. In this chair, I’ve not done it once in two days. I accept that I’m going to slow down (old age? Most likely) and that I will have to get used to it. I like the way both chairs look.

On Tuesday at 09:15 I’m meeting with the dealer, who will have the Champion with him again – I’m having one race around the car park in both chairs and then I will have made my mind up.

On 23 January, I will be confirming it – then I’ll tell you all, too.