baratron: (london)
I've done a bit more work on migrating my lj friends list to a new dreamwidth access list. It is, however, really depressing how many of the accounts on my new list say "never updated" next to them.

It seems that my dreamwidth reading list consists of about 10 people who regularly post. I really miss the chronic health community that I had on lj, but haven't had the spoons either to post on lj to ask where people have moved to, or to try to find a new version here. Must find some spoons. Currently accepting donations.

I still have a couple of hundred links from my mobile browser which I "need" to post on my journal. I expect most of the news-related links are now hideously outdated due to new events. A lot of the queer or disability-related links are still interesting, though.

In exciting personal news, I now have a Freedom Pass! I've qualified for one for years, I just didn't have sufficient energy/motivation to submit the paperwork. And buses in London are free if you're a wheelchair user anyway. However, due to various things (such as the fire at Camden Lock Market), I now need to take the Tube on a regular basis. £8.10 for a Travelcard with a Disabled Railcard is just horrendous (that's like THREE chocolate brownies!), and that was finally enough motivation for me to apply for the pass.

So now I can travel all around London for free, and also on buses elsewhere in England. However, my travel is currently restricted owing to the fact that platforms 7 & 8 at Vauxhall will have no lift until April. Also for the next couple of weeks, trains from Kingston are only every half hour (instead of every 15 minutes), and will be taking 48+ minutes to get to Waterloo instead of 30ish.

I must remember to buy tickets for this vegan food fair. Perhaps after Richard has recovered from the shock of paying for my last-minute train tickets to Leeds - which were already heavily reduced due to aforementioned Freedom Pass and Disabled Railcard...
baratron: (boots)
I have many photos of my trip to the US to post, when I get A Round Tuit. They are crappy mobile phone pictures, but I cannot be bothered to carry a real camera with me any more. I am a terrible photographer with the best equipment in the world, and I'm more interested in recording memories than attempting to take good shots.

Currently I am worrying about being stranded in New York tomorrow once Delta drop me off there.

It turns out that Aer Lingus are morons. I've had several "incidents" with them this trip and am never flying with them again, but in the meantime they are supposed to be getting me home to London tomorrow.Read more... )
baratron: (willpower)
I'm sitting in Starbucks on Wardour Street waiting for Richard to get out of work. Someone's broken the only lift into his building so I can't wait there, and Westminster Council hates wheelchair users so much that I can't easily get around Soho by myself due to a severe shortage of dropped kerbs. So I didn't have a great deal of choice. I couldn't even get to Costa because it would have meant hurling myself off 4 inch high pavements and then driving along the road. I value my teeth a bit too much to risk that sort of thing.

I really need to organise some sort of petition/protest/shoot a video showing Westminster Council just how fucked up their access around Soho and Covent Garden really is. That would, however, require spoons, which are in short supply at the best of times.

I'm sure I owe you guys an "I got home from my travels safely" message, but I have been far too ill since I got back to manage anything. Nothing new, "just" severe period pain combined with my usual back/hip pain, the combination of which has required eating enough painkillers that I've been too sleepy for coherence. Joy! "Conveniently" I had an appointment at the Pain Management Clinic already booked for Monday. But it was hard to fill in the pain questionnaire when I'd been lying flat on my back groaning because of my uterus for days.

So after a week of doing absolutely bugger all, today I've got up & gone into London. Earlier it was sunny but not warm, now it is positively freezing. It was 30 deg C in Canada and I got irradiated by strong sunlight every day - here it is a maximum of 18 deg C in the middle of the day. Positively autumnal, and I miss my summer. Going out for dinner with Richard and his vegan colleague who is visiting from Canada. Richard has been unimpressed by the way his company has been treating this guy, e.g. yesterday they went out for steak even knowing that nowhere that serves decent steak in London also does vegan food at all.

I'm tired. Life could be a lot worse, though.
baratron: (cn tower)
1) Write a packing list.
2) Pack.
3) Buy travel insurance. Who did I buy travel insurance from last time? There's the company which refuses to insure you if you're bipolar, and then the other company which will happily insure you if you're broken, but not for anything pre-existing. Which is fine - I might be "mentally ill" but I am not going to flip out and hurt myself or anyone else! (Grr. So discriminatory.)

4) Sort out the jury service form. DONE!

5) Fill in and print out Air Canada's amazing wheelchair form several times. I am not being sarcastic - that form is actually amazing and I wish every airline had something like it.

6) Check in for my flight online.
7) Print out my boarding pass.
8) Check in to the HOTEL online.
- all done on Thursday night.
9) Figure out where we’re eating on Friday night, since I doubt we’re going to be wanting to go very far from the hotel. DONE! Apparently there is both a pizza place and a burrito place that does vegan food nearby. And Whole Foods is within walking distance.

10) Wash my wheelchair, because it's currently covered in mud from the Download Festival :O
11) Tell 2 x banks that I'm going to another country and they should therefore expect to see card transactions from there. - sorted.
baratron: (cn tower)
Today has been an exercise in frustration. Booking accommodation while disabled is... difficult. I have to make sure that I can get in and out of the bathroom by myself without immediately forcing my new boyfriend into "carer" mode when he's never even met me in person.

We were looking at apartments on AirB&B and TripAdvisor… the problem is that all a person needs to do to make their flat “wheelchair accessible” is to tick a little box. So there were a whole load of apartments that I could apparently get around fine until it got to the bathroom. Whereupon there were suddenly no grab rails, a bathtub with no seat or dropped sides, and a fixed shower head rather than a detachable one.

The Download Festival is more accessible than most of these condos, and that's an outdoor music festival where you sleep in a tent! But at least it has grab rails in the toilets and enough space to transfer from a wheelchair if you can't walk at all, and roll-in showers with a seat and grab rails.

Also, the most frustrating thing on any website is the phrase “This hotel has accessible rooms that may include the following accessible features”. Just fuck off! I don't care about what you "may" provide, I want to know what you definitely "will" provide!

Grargh.

In other news, I have discovered that Electric Wheelchair Hockey is a thing. That's positively amazing - I hadn't known there were any sports accessible to users of electric wheelchairs before. Wow :)
baratron: (cn tower)
-4 deg C with no wind is a perfectly reasonable temperature if you are wearing the appropriate gear.

-11 deg C with windchill is UNIMAGINABLY cold, so much so that I thought my eyeballs were going to freeze (even though I know it takes a much lower temperature for that to happen).

I thought the name "Montréal" was pronounced Mon - tré - al (with appropriate French syllables), but the people here pronounce it in French as "Mor - ré - al". The "t", and most of the "n", are entirely missing.

In English, it's pronounced the way you'd expect. So the same person talking about their city in two different languages pronounces the name of it differently. I suppose that's not particularly unusual - Paris springs to mind, but I'm used to cities where the name is actually different in the two languages, e.g. London / Londres.

The other oddity is that although you might think the city name comes from Mont Réal and therefore there's a mountain somewhere called that, it's actually called Mont Royal. Obviously, Réal is a corruption of Royal, but why did the city name change and the mountain name not? I need to look this up because it's bothering me!

There is a great abundance of vegan food. I have 23 restaurants on my list (printed out from HappyCow) and have been to 3 of them, but also the hotel is right next to Chinatown and anywhere that can do fried tofu with mixed vegetables and steamed rice is fine for me. I'm not a Level 5 vegan!

There is a low abundance of accessibility. I can go hardly anywhere by myself. A lot of shops have one big step outside - which does make sense in a city with large amounts of snowfall for several months of the year. Some others are arranged in an "upstairs/downstairs" manner, with five steps down to the basement shop and a flight of stairs up to the second floor shop. I found what looked like an awesome game shop, but the only way I could get into it would be if I was having a really energetic day and got Richard to wait outside with the wheelchair while I limped up the stairs.

For further inaccessibility, the official Montréal journey planner only includes metro and train, not bus. WTF? I suppose this is what you can expect of a city which only has 2 fully-accessible metro stations (plus a further 5 which are accessible with help), but WTF?! Many buses are accessible (e.g. every other bus on a route, or 2 out of 3), but that's no use if I can't figure out how to catch them! I found an unofficial journey planner, but it wouldn't recognise any address I entered, not even the examples given! Bah. I'll work it out myself with a bus map :(
baratron: (boots)
Can you tell me how you dress in the winter?

I'm trying to work out what sort of clothes I need for this Canadian trip, and I'm confused about what to wear when it's -10 degrees C outside and 20 degrees C inside. See, I'd generally assume that when it's -10 degrees, you want to wear thermal baselayers - but I wouldn't want to wear thermal underwear indoors. So I'm trying to figure out what order you put the layers on in.

Also, sitting in a wheelchair, I get colder than people who are walking around. But I'm loathe to get one of those wheelchair-user leg-cosy things in case I need to stand up for some reason.
baratron: (corrosive)
Oh dear. I have made Richard unhappy. I didn't quite realise that he was talking about going back to Canada THIS TUESDAY i.e. 28th January i.e.in a week. I was focused too hard on the being in Toronto around the middle of February part and not really thinking about the beginning of the trip.

I know nothing about Montreal other than that they speak weird Quebec French, the Biodome is really good, and anything I have picked up from the Kathy Reichs books which are set there. I shall have to search [livejournal.com profile] papersky and [livejournal.com profile] redbird's past lj entries about things to do in Montreal. And I need to find out how accessible the city is, especially in winter weather conditions.

I am now very stressed because I need to get enough meds and clothes for the trip, as well as sorting out enough work to take with me. I'm planning to work for half the time and look at museums, zoos etc for the rest of the time. (Probably one day of work followed by a day of sightseeing). A week doesn't seem like long enough to sort everything out. Argh!
baratron: (cn tower)
After having done not very much in months, we had a colossally busy weekend.

On Friday night we pretended to be young again and went to a nightclub for the first time in... I can't actually remember how long, but most likely about a decade, and possibly longer. Read more... )

We then slept all of Saturday and went out with Tim & Peter in the evening to celebrate Tim's birthday. I believe he was 25* this year. I suppose by the same logic I will also be 25 in June and can simply carry on clubbing like I used to, if I can find the energy. What I really need is to be able to persuade/pay one or more of my friends who like vaguely similar music as me to come and do the bouncer-ing so that Richard can enjoy himself without having to Be My Carer, since he does enough of that already.

* = hexadecimal

On Sunday I mostly played Skyrim, and then on Monday we went to Poole to see Richard's dad, stepmum, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. This necessitated far longer on trains than should reasonably be required considering the distance, but all of the Special Assistance actually happened!! I am thinking of writing to South West Trains to congratulate them, because it's the first time in bloody ages that I've booked assistance and all of it has materialised as expected. Possibly because I emphasised really hard that I was concerned about whether the lifts at Surbiton would be working, and the fact I'd be changing at Woking around 11 pm when the staff tend to change shift.

Yesterday all I did was go to the doctor to get my vitamin B12 injection. Today^ I am on a train up to Glasgow. Tomorrow we are going to see the Wildhearts supported by Eureka Machines. It's the 20th anniversary of Earth Vs the Wildhearts, if anyone else wants to feel positively antique. They're only doing four dates, none of them in London, which is why we're going to Glasgow to see them.

^ = written on the train on 2013-04-03
baratron: (bi_pride)
Tomorrow is, variously, International Celebrate Bisexuality Day or Bi Visibility Day.

I couldn't decide whether to go to the London BiFete or the Brighton Evening With Cake, so I'm doing both!

I will be at BiFete with my friend Lou from 2-3.30ish, and then at the Brighton Evening from 6-8pm. And on trains the rest of the time.

I have discovered that First Capital Connect are actually competent, and were able to book my assisted travel despite my journey consisting of three separate train companies. This is so amazing that I might have to die of shock.
baratron: (cn tower)
I didn't actually get round to posting that I had arrived in Boston safely, but I figured that you'd know I was here from the lack of news about planes crashing horribly into the Atlantic. Here's my excuse: by the time I went to bed on Thursday night, I'd been up for 39 hours straight and I was losing the ability to do coherent English.

The journey was totally uneventful. Plane was only about 1/3 full, making me feel slightly guilty. I lay down across three seats and attempted to sleep, but couldn't. Even though I'm a short-arse, I still couldn't fit full-length across the seats, so I don't know how anyone ever manages it. Listened to music for the trip.

Arrived in Boston almost on-time, got myself across to the hotel on public transport, had an "amusing" time figuring out how I was supposed to get on the Red Line train at South Station - apparently you ask the driver for assistance. This is so totally unlike any UK train, where the driver hides in his or her cab for the whole trip and you never see them. The weather when I arrived was shockingly warmer than the weather at home and I thought this was Very Wrong, but then it started snowing. Yay.

[livejournal.com profile] bitty and [livejournal.com profile] bubblebabble came to pick me up and we went to Somerville to collect our wedding rings and see other jewellery and sculptures by the same artist. Feel free to guess which of the geeky rings on that site we went for, but I'm not actually going to tell anyone who doesn't already know until after the wedding :)

Then we went for dinner at Veggie Galaxy. It was good.

Yesterday I met [livejournal.com profile] lilairen, for the first time since January 2005 - she is now accompanied by 2.5 year old offspring, who is very clearly a Geek Child :) We went to Pandemonium, a Local Independent Bookstore. I bought many books not available in the UK, including some by [livejournal.com profile] papersky. Then we went for Chinese.

Later I met up with [livejournal.com profile] treacle_well, and eventually acquired my roommates HoopyCat and [livejournal.com profile] veryfineredwine, whose flights had been cancelled and rearranged several times in the space of 2 hours. (The flight they eventually got, leaving at 8 pm last night, was way superior to the original offering of a flight leaving today at 6.15 am and routing via Washington DC!). bitty and Arthur delivered them from the airport, and we had pizza from Peace o'Pie. I booted up the webcam and we talked to Richard over Skype, so it was like he was here with us.

Today I am supposed to be meeting up with Freezepop, but Sean is rehearsing with his other band Lifestyle, so arrangements are somewhat dependent on him. If I don't hear anything soon, I'll give them a call.
baratron: (cn tower)
People who live in or know Boston well - is there a good app for figuring out public transport routes for Android? I can't get the official website route-o-matic to work on my phone. There doesn't seem to be a mobile version of the website like there is for Transport for London, and the Apps page quite honestly lists about 20 apps for various phone OSes, none of them officially endorsed by MBTA!

I need something that will work on the move since no amount of prior planning helps if something totally unexpected happens. It must also recognise and use the "accessible" flag, ideally on the front page like the official website's journey planner. (TfL's mobile edition hides this on a second page under "Advanced options" AND never remembers that I need it set. I get really sick of looking up routes and realising they won't work due to stairs, and having to go back and change the options).

I've booked my flights to arrive at lunchtime on Thursday 26th and fly out mid-afternoon on Sunday 29th - this is so I get home in time to sleep for a few hours, then get to College. I *may* be being wildly optimistic here, but less so than if I assumed I'd be able to sleep on the plane, since that rarely happens.

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.

baratron: (introspection)
Richard & I have been really emo this evening. When it's one of us that feels bad, the other one can comfort them; but it seems to be almost impossible when both of us feel bad to simultaneously provide comfort.

Basically - Richard invited me to come with his paintball team to Florida next month, but where they will be staying is the arse end of nowhere with no public transport. So if I went, I'd either be stuck in the villa all day every day, or having to take taxis everywhere - which will cost a small fortune and greatly limit my movements. If they were staying in Orlando, it would be fine - but they stay in "cities" like Davenport and Polk City, which have 1500 permanent residents and then thousands of holiday homes. And Orlando is in the total opposite direction to where they need to go for the paintball tournament (which is literally in the middle of nowhere), so they couldn't even drop me at a bus stop on the way there.

We then proceeded to have a mutual meltdown about how broken I am. Bluh. It got long... )
baratron: (boots)
Last Saturday (16th) I went to the Joan Miró exhibition at the Tate Modern with Tim & Peter and my mum. He is one of my favourite artists, but I didn't realise until I saw the publicity for this exhibition that he was male - I thought it was the woman's name Joan, not a Catalan spelling of the man's name Juan. That's made me slightly sad because it means there are even fewer famous female surrealists.

The exhibition was awesome anyway. Lots of great paintings, plus a series of 50 pencil drawings called the Barcelona Series, which were incredibly inspiring, because I can draw boggle-eyed toothy monsters like that! (Some of them remind me of the Prince and his cousins from Katamari Damacy!). I often feel that modern art "doesn't count" if it involves a level of skill which I'd be capable of, but apparently I disregard this opinion if I really like it?! Hmm. I also really liked the Head of a Catalan Peasant series, especially the one which is a portrait of Richard.

Afterwards we went to Pizza Express, which is a typical thing to do with Tim & Peter, and walked over the Millennium Bridge to St Paul's Cathedral, where I investigated new and exciting ramps in the ground. Oh, and missed the train that I'd booked assisted travel on, due to the lift in Waterloo Station being broken and no one knowing about it to tell me. Had to go ALL ROUND THE OUTSIDE to get in through the level entrance. Grrr!

On Friday (22nd) we went to Devizes to see Richard's mother's grave and also various alive members of his family, namely his father, stepmother, sister, her husband, and nephew. It was VERY VERY SUNNY and we spent several hours outside, walking round the Caen Hill Locks. Well, they walked, I wheeled. Except I got "hilariously" stuck over one of the narrow bridges while Richard temporarily forgot I existed due to taking photos. There were dozens of people around to help me though. Heh.

On Saturday (23rd) I collapsed in a heap and slept for 18 hours, and then we went to see Wolfsbane. More about that later.

On Sunday (24th) Tim & Peter came round and we played Portal 2, and went to Pizza Express, where a waitress we'd never seen before "recognised us". This may be something to do with our tendency to take plushie animals with us to dinner. We get recognised everywhere we go even semi-regularly for this reason.

On Monday (25th) Marcus ([livejournal.com profile] hatter) came round and we went to look at "the trees" in Richmond Park, including my favourite tree. I had an altercation with a bus driver who refused to let me on because he already had "two buggies" occupying the wheelchair space - I pointed out that wheelchairs take priority over buggies and the guardians of the small children moved them out of the way for me to get on. If they hadn't been reasonable, I would have written down the registration number of the bus and got straight on the phone to Transdev (the bus company who runs that route), since it was totally ridiculous of the driver to assume that a wheelchair passenger should have to wait 15 minutes for the next bus when it blatantly says that the space is for wheelchairs! I probably should have done that anyway, but it would have required spoons which I don't have.

Photos of some of these activities to follow in next post.

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