Our trip to Plymouth for the British Firework Championships 2014

Fireworks

About 9 months ago the dates for the two nights of fireworks were released – so we quickly booked the two of us into a hotel in Plymouth. I’ve done a separate blog on why we had to cancel our original booking with Holiday Inn.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Kevin would have had to sleep on the floor as they didn’t have a temporary camp/sofa bed in the room like other places we have stayed – so we booked a room at the Future Inn.

Back to the Future?

Not quite – we won’t be going back to the Future Inn – for one reason which is particular to people like me who need a pressure relief mattress. You see, the Inn was lovely, staff were nice, we had two double beds, easy parking and a wet room / shower – yet once we had put my mattress on the bed it was too high to get on!

Incidentally, you couldn’t use a hoist neither as the bed plinth was wooden down to the carpet. Also, there was so much furniture in the room I couldn’t get to the bed without scraping my power chair along the bed on one side and the fixed table on the other. There was little room to turn – you went in forward and generally came out backwards.

So for our requirements we really struggled with Kevin having to lift me on the bed and then from the bed onto my mattress.  We rarely have this problem as in other places the beds have been lower – with the option to raise them on blocks in some places. This suits everyone – but this Inn have yet to understand the true meaning of ‘access for all’ or at least ‘most’!

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Top left – This is Sibel, my portable hair washing basin we take in case I can’t reach the sink or I’m too tired to shower. Top right – my new modified shower chair/toilet chair. Bottom left – the crazy small gap to get through to get to the side of the bed. Bottom right – the nice bed we destroyed to put my mattress and things on for me to use it.

On the plus side, we got to see how our modified toilet chair worked in practice and I was able to have a shower for the first time in about 5 years which was rather nice considering I only ever have a sink wash.

Fireworks Night 1

So no fireworks in the bedroom aside deep frustration …. but loads of them out on the Hoe. The first night we drove to the Park and Ride a few minutes up the road. We were dropped off in the town and walked nearly a mile, with the rest of the Pyro maniacs, onto the Hoe for the giant showdown.

There were thousands of people as we expected, a fun fair and the usual array of chip and donut vans. However, we didn’t anticipate on the fireworks being set off far below us on the water (we were basically on a cliff). Even at their highest they weren’t visible overhead- so you needed a clear line of sight to the sea.

Their were 3 displays each night. However, once the tall fat lady stood in front of me I couldn’t even see the sky! I stared at her rounded behind and saw nothing of the first set, about 40% of the second set leaning out the side of my chair around her chubby thighs and about 90% of the third set.

All in all, not so successful. We drove hundreds of miles to see a fat lady’s bum …. not what I had imagined! Incredibly frustrating.  Kevin took a video so I watched that instead.

Tomorrow we would try plan B – arrive hours early and pick a different viewing point.

On the up side, we stood next to a Chinese guy with a mental health problem who was muttering all sorts of random sentences for the duration, whilst doing throat singing and waving his arms in pure delight at the pops and bangs. He was having so much fun oohing and ahhhing in-between the mutterings that we were sucked up into the bubble of pure joy that was emanating from him. That was more magic than the fireworks.

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turtle

 

Earlier on in the day we went to the aquarium to get a fish fix – that was really good and they had good food. You can’t go wrong watching a turtle or jellyfish.  As is customary I took 200 blurry blue photos of fish and videoed the jellies.

It was nearly 2.30 by the time we got to bed, the queue to the park and ride was longer than anything you’ve ever seen at Disney.  So, we got in and the night ended with hubs throwing me onto the bed, quite literally.  ZZZzzzzz

Fireworks Night 2

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train2

After a day on the South Devon Railway (great access, friendly staff and a lovely journey), we put into action Plan B. We parked at the aquarium around 6pm to get a place in the multi-storey, went for dinner, then ambled round to the front of the aquarium where we had a great view of the fireworks. Away from the funfair, the crowds were less dense and more civilised! It was nice and quiet with the gentle hum of people wondering if it was ever going to start after a 30 minute technical glitch. There were 3 sets on night two – each company got the usual 10 minutes to show off what they could do.

harbour

I was sat next to a small child by the harbour railing. She was about six years old and stood as close as she could to my side and just stared silently and intensely at me for a whole 10 minutes during set 2 . Alas I was trying to watch the fireworks so there wasn’t the time for conversation. The thing was, I could feel her breathing down my neck and as I turned my head to see what she was doing we met virtually nose to nose. She still had a perplexed look on her face, clinging like a limpet to my armrest which started me laughing. I give her top marks for her endurance and finding me more amazing than the fireworks she was missing. Maybe she was a robot child or something – who knows.

So it was another late night and after more mountaineering we made it into bed.

Day 3

Going home day. A nice late checkout, we went home via a slight detour for Kevin to do some bridge spotting. Now, what he didn’t tell me was to get to the bottom of the Tamar bridge, at Saltash, to take a photo, involved the steepest road you’ve ever seen in your life – the sort you would normally go down on foot attached to a rope and harness. How anyone can live on that hill is beyond me.  This little escapade also meant driving over the bridge twice – with only a little barrier on the way back to stop you plummeting to your death. Lovely.

 

 

 

 

 

Isle of Wight Day 2 – Calbourne Water Mill

Day two was a hang onto your head day.  We drove along military road which is enough to give you a concussion, and then miles around country lanes which fortunately had very little traffic. It would seem that not many people take these roads – understandable given their condition! My neck was cracking and paining and the sun was throwing everything she had at us.

So we went here for the day – Calbourne Water Mill

Calbourne Mill

My heart was whooping with delight at the entrance sign advertising scrummy looking sweet and savoury pancakes and all day breakfasts in their cafe. Starved and shaken up, we headed in.

Pancake sign

We got the carer’s discount (always nice) and dived into the modern restaurant/cafe in the grounds.

“I’ll have an all day breakfast pancake please.”

“We aren’t cooking pancakes today.”

“Oh, what about the all day breakfast…”

“Were not doing them either today.”

We were gutted to say the least. I had a run of the mill cornish pasty and chips and Kevin had a pricey sandwich. Not the best of starts.

What a strange place.

The whole place is rather odd. An eclectic mix of dusty farm machinery, rotten wood harvesters and wagons, with a few shed/workshops being used for pottery making and the like.

As you walk through the sheds, you look up and pray nothing falls on your head as the roof underside is covered in saws and other agricultural blades held on by rickety metal studs.

Scary sheds

The main attraction are the peacocks – I spent the afternoon stalking them for a photo whilst Kevin wandered around. I couldn’t really get around the mill so this kept me amused. I stalked one around the small war museum building complete with a resin cast of Churchill (as in PM not the dog – although both are quite jowly and the resin cast didn’t show him in the best of health).  One came up to check out my knees – so he made it into my photo montage.

Peacock

As we got back into the car, Kevin found his camera he couldn’t find before we went in. So he went back in to take some photos before we did the wobbly journey back home to our holiday cottage. It was a relief to be able to speak to the cottage owner and get the wifi password to connect to the world. Usually you get a folder with all the details in like nearest shops, petrol stations, manuals for the house equipment etc. This one was disappointing as the only thing we had was a notice board where the prominent sign was to make sure that if you are pregnant you don’t sit in the hot tub for more than 10minutes unless you are aiming to induce your baby… not the most helpful of info really for the average holiday maker.

Isle of Wight – Day 1 Godshill

We were about 5 miles from Godshill – named as such because it is claimed the church foundations were to be placed where a pub now sits … but overnight the stones were miraculously moved to the top of the hill.  We arrived late in the day with the aim of having a pub lunch, looking around the shops and visiting the model village which had got 5 star ratings on Trip Advisor. I also downloaded every App available for the Isle of Wight just to make sure we had some digital information on hand. I’m sorry I did thought because they all turned out to be rather rubbish.

We dodged the busy traffic (pavement was hit and miss up the street) weaving between pavement and narrow road. Some of the shops had already closed on the way up so people were hiding out in the remaining tea shop that was open. We went up the hill and found the cottages, then onto the church and we had it all to ourselves pretty much.  A sign on the church said a ramp was available behind the organ to get in – but Kevin couldn’t see it. I sat in the porch and took pictures of gravestones.

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Anyway, the Model Village said it was open until 6 in late July and that is what we had aimed to see. We went on the 14th of July but at 4.45 was told it was closing at 5… so not late enough.

We headed back down the dodgy road (a bit scary) and into the pub for tea. My small portion was huge and I happily munched through a pile of nachos and a cauliflower and ‘something or other’ cheese crumble. It was baking hot with temperatures of 27-30 degrees all week.

So that was day 1. We headed back to our holiday cottage to melt a little bit more.

Holiday Antics

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This has been a mad two weeks…

Week 1: Holiday, self catering in the only higher level accessible cottage in Lancashire.

By accessible, I mean we survived. It might sound a bit dramatic but any stay away from home is a test of endurance, patience and stamina. Holidays are hard work for hubs because he has to lift a lot more from different heights etc. After a 7 hr journey ( we have to stop quite a lot for pain relief) we arrive late at night and before we can crash into bed he has to move all the bedroom furniture for access. We were also presented with high beds that would be higher than the arms of my wheelchair once my pressure mattress topper went on. Had to strip the beds, take of the mattress and remake a new mattress from the bits we had brought.

Next we had to work out how to manage in the bathroom without ledges to put my feet on for balance and a bathroom door which opened into the bathroom blocking of the route to the shower. I can’t clean my teeth or physically sit on the loo until I have enough things to lean on at exactly the right height. It’s hard work for hubs and increases the pain and fatigue so it’s not exactly relaxing!

Each day we congratulated ourselves with a ‘we made it, only x days to go’ conversation.

The reading material they provided came in handy as table leg raisers so I could eat and by the end of the week we had a good routine going – just in time to go home lol.

So why do we do it? Because you can’t experience the world and see new things and have pleasure from that without making the effort and putting up with the difficult environments. We had some great days, fab food and it was nice just to have time away together.

On our way back we stopped to pick up my brother’s active/passive cycle I bought from him and a new (second hand) wheelchair to be the base for my next kit chair 🙂 good times.