London, England & Dordogne, France 2007
by Syd & June Burns © 2007
Monday 10 Sept.
Usual efficiency on rail to London, everything handled smoothly. When we arrived at the Union Jack Club, the stair lift still had not been repaired since February. We still had to gain entrance through the garage area. This time we were in Flat C which is the same as Flat A and not as accessibly convenient as Flat B. It was not a great inconvenience really. We met up with an old friend Mavis who had the coffee going by the time we arrived. We explored the South Bank of the Thames again, walking across the Millennium Bridge to view St Paul's, a view I never tire of. Ate in the club a few drinks and an early night.
Tuesday 11 Sept.
June has had a swollen leg for a few a weeks and it burst today. A bit of a panic as it came as a big blister and then seeped as a steady drip. We beat a hasty retreat to St Thomas Hospital around the corner from the club. We were treated really well, in and out in about two hours with a load of TLC and dressings to see us through the next 10 days or so. Happy with that, we headed to Westminster Abbey. Really impressive and extremely wheelchair friendly, there were only a few places that were not accessible, but as they were there in 1500 or so they had first claim. As we got to the centre of the abbey everything stopped for a prayer for the 9/11 victims. Not long, but very poignant, in that wonderful ancient setting, it made the hairs on my neck shiver and I am not a religious person. So we saw the resting places of all the kings and queens along with the great and the good. A place to spend many hours. for wheelchairs.
Wednesday 12 Sept.
Caught the train to Windsor, no w/chair problems. Viewed the grounds and then the inside of the castle. Absolutely awesome. We stayed as long as possible. Every member of the staff was so attentive and helpful to June's needs. There were more disabled toilets that ordinary ones. Queen Mary's dolls house was a joy for June, so much so that she sweet talked the staff into giving her a special two views so she could really study it in detail. The restoration work after the great fire a few years ago is breathtaking. An exhausting day but a very happy and exciting one.
Thursday 13 Sept
June's leg a lot better and we decided that Hampton Court Palace was the place to go. As usual no problems getting there. Alas, the lift to the upper floors was out of order but they never charged any entrance. As we had been there before it was not a great disappointment. As Mavis did the rounds upstairs, June and I viewed the gardens, then found a nice pub outside to sit in the sun and have a pint. What pleasure.
Friday 14 Sept
Early morning we caught the train to Southampton to catch the plane to Bergerac in France. We flew FlyBE a budget airline that really knows how to cater for the disabled. No problems by either rail or air. It was just a 90-minute flight. We landed on time and were met by our old friends Cherith and Jan. It was a tight squeeze in their little car but we made it to Belves in about an hour. We had a ground floor apartment that was spacious but the shower and toilet were not really convenient for wheelchairs. June managed as she can walk one or two steps. With the help of a couple of garden chairs a shower was possible. The weather was hot and after a walk around the little mediaeval town we went for a meal at Cherith's house. Getting in was a nightmare. 8 steps down to the entrance. However, we managed down and up with an amount of huffing and puffing.
Sat 15 Sept.
The Medieval town of Belves, France
We were woken
up at 7 a.m. by the sound of church bells. All the churches in the area appeared
to be outdoing each other with the joy of getting people out of bed at that
ungodly hour. It was market day in
Belves, no problem getting there at all. The
coffee and crepes (pancakes) where out of this world. Later in the afternoon we
were taken by Pete, Cherith's husband, hot air ballooning. Another of June's
ambitions to be fulfilled. What an experience. It took about an hour to expand
the balloon and get under way. The day was perfect and there were another three
balloons alongside us. We lifted June into the basket where they had fixed a
chair. Soon we were off into the magic quiet world of ballooning. The only noise
was when more flame had to be fired into the balloon. Then it was a roar. We
started off from
Fayrac châteaux, passing over other châteaux's Beynac, Milandes
( where Josephine Baker entertained in the 20s)
Marqueysac, La Coste where the
old Queen Mother used to stay, and an hour or so later we had a very gentle
landing at a village called
Bouzic. In all the flight lasted an hour or so and
June, by this time, was in seventh heaven. By the time we packed the balloon up
it was getting late and we all had a terrific meal in
Le Home restaurant
Belves. Every thing about the day was right.
Wheelchair Accessible Ballooning in France.
Sun. 16 Sept.
A very quiet day, up late, a bumbly day, saw two villages Molliers, which had a ruined chateux and then on to Cadouin, which had a market hall and a lovely place to sit and have a drink. It was a time for reflection on the ballooning the day before.
Mon. 17 Sept.
A day to see friends and relatives of our hosts. Pete, the balloonist, restores houses and is a master of his craft. It was a long day visiting their property. Really out in the country and totally magnificent but not places we could live. We appreciated the quiet tranquility of La Farou but it would have driven June and I insane in a month with the remoteness and quiet. Another meal at the local restaurant, and we were by this time getting worn out.
Tues. 18 Sept.
We were picked up early and off north across the river Dordogne to a village called Le Bugue. It was a most picturesque place and had a huge open air market. It took hours to get around, the views and the smells were spectacular. I could have stayed all day. We had a picnic on the river side and then went to see the last and final church at Alles sur Dordogne. Really spectacular, but by this time we were well churched out. The wheelchair access was pretty good.
Wed. 19 Sept
Last day and we arrived early at Bergerac airport for the flight home. As usual, we were first to board the plane. We got as far as the departure gate and then they found the incoming plane had a bird strike in the engine. We were given a £10 voucher and told to get a meal and a drink. The airport was that small that we all sat under umbrellas in the sun and had a party. We were kept well informed on what was going on and some five hours later we were on our way home. No one bitched or moaned about the delay, it was like an extra day in the sun. Disabled toilets were really good. We caught the train to London with about 10 seconds to spare. The staff were brilliant in getting June aboard, considering we were so late. Arriving back in the UJ club we had our first experience of their disabled room as we normally have a flat. It was totally magnificent. Plenty of space, roll-in, roll-out shower with all the appropriate handles. The best we have ever experienced anywhere. Any ex service disabled people should use this facility.
Thurs. 20 Sept
Up early, good breakfast and a few hours to spare before catching the train home. We decided to visit the Imperial War Museum which is a 15-minute walk from the club. A wonderful experience, and it s really laid on for wheelchairs. It was so enthralling that we had to rush back to catch out taxi to Euston Station and home.
In 10 days we pushed a lot in, so now we can relax for a month or two. Or can we?
Addresses that may be useful:
Union Jack Club
London SE1 8UJ
Pete Beglan Balloons
Check out Syd & June's other adventures to:
Durham, England '10
Liverpool, England '09
Sheffield, England '09
Wynyard Hall '09
London, England & Dordogne, France '07
Tennessee Trip '07
London in Spring '07
Weekend in London '07
Sheffield, England's Marriott '05
New Zealand Part I
New Zealand Part II
East Coast Of America (Boston to Richmond and return)
Chicago and Las Vegas
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