Text & Photos by Syd & June Burns © 2006
Syd & June Burns, who have shared so many of their travels with Global Access News, share their week in London, England.
|Syd & June Burns at
Monday, 17 April / Friday 22 April 2006
Being Easter, the organisation for the train trip was fraught with difficulties. We were travelling Virgin Rail and they have a superb Customer Service hot line that deals with people with disabilities. Trying for several weeks to no avail to get a seat on the train, because of track maintenance, we finally were told to turn up half an hour before the 9 am train was due and all would be well.
The train we originally were due to travel on was cancelled. We met up with Ian, Sheena and Alex and the train was spot on time. Customer Service where there, the ramp was laid out and we travelled first class. Slowly ever so slowly we edged toward Manchester. Arriving, the wheelchair was off loaded with great efficiency and humour, June was pushed to the train that was taking us to London. Sufficient to say that the train took twice as long as normal to arrive at Euston Station. Being directed and helped all along the way to a black cab that was wheelchair friendly complete with ramp.
Arriving at the Union Jack Club which is a service mans hotel we were met by security who transferred June to a stair lift that whisked her inside. We were given flat B which was on the 8th floor of 17. We were amazed at the luxury for the price we paid. Three bedrooms, sitting room, 2 bath rooms and a kitchen with every appliance known to man. And a view to kill for. Overlooking St Paul's. Â All the public rooms were wheelchair friendly in all respects. The down side was that facilities for the disabled guest was minimal in the flat. Fortunately we never travel without a bath board which was essential here. After unpacking we explored the South Bank of the Thames which is totally w/chair friendly. There are lifts (elevators) that will take you from street levels to the pedestrian bridges. We had a meal and a pint then walked across the Millennium bridge to St Paul's cathedral. Most impressive! After a drink in the bar we all had an early night.
Off early to see Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard. Very wheel chair friendly walk from the club to the palace. A good view if you get there rather early. June had a good view by the gate only to be moved to one side as the guard went in. We stayed a few hours, then off to Harrods. Not as easy in there for the chair. Everyone was so very helpful but the fabulous bar was off limits as there were many steps to contend. We abandoned that idea and moved off elsewhere. The family spit up after lunch and we did our own thing. June and I just idly shopped and walked back to the club. The young ones found it too tiring so got a taxi back. Wimps.
A few drinks in the bar before dinner which was superb. The attentive service was quite spectacular. We all stood on the balcony and took in the terrific views of the London skyline. Magic.
June Burns at Hampton Court
Up early, breakfast and off to have a ride on the London Eye. This has been rated as London's most visited site. June's ticket price was quite cheaper than for the walkers. I being the pusher got on free. The access and the help we received could not be bettered. We were allowed on first so that saved any queuing. The trip was 30 minutes long and we all agreed that never has 30 minutes passed so quickly. The views across London were spectacular. The family split up again June and I going to Hampton Court Palace and the others to the Tower of London which we knew was hopeless for w/chairs? We were helped on and off the train from Waterloo Station to Hampton Court Station. The journey was 30 minutes. Here again June was half price and I got in free. What can one say about the Palace? We were helped all along the way by attendants who where in love with their jobs. Where there were barriers they opened doors and took us along passages, not open to the public. We were there nearly 4 hours and only scratched the surface. This is a place we will certainly return and explore. The return journey was as helpful to us as the outgoing. No problems at all. A dinner at the club finishing up in the bar with a collection of old soldiers. The stories where amazing.
A walk around London. Over bridges, around the old city. A viewing of Covent Garden, but we were really too early. Did all the touristy things. Trafalgar Square, (Nelson was covered up for cleaning). We spent a lot of time in Hamlinâ€™s the biggest toy shop in Europe. We lost ourselves there. Very wheelchair friendly. June being the eternal kid bought a bubble making machine which supposedly are for the grand kids. No way. We had an early meal and then off to the King Edward Theatre to see "Mary Poppins." Alex was nearly wetting herself with excitement. June and I once again got half price tickets. Arriving in the foyer we were met by an attendant who said it was his privilege to look after us. Oooooooooo. To our surprise we were seated in the Royal Box complete with private loo. I spotted the rest of the family up in the Gods and gave them all a Royal wave. Now that was an experience, just to see how the other half lives. We were served with a gin during the interval albeit it a plastic container. The live show was really out of this world. How easy it is to see the spectaculars from a wheelchair. In all, a wonderful night, this finished off with a midnight supper in an Italian restaurant a few yards from the club. A wonderful day. June said that really there were no obstacles at all.
Our last day in London. We decided to see Parliament, Downing Street and Horse Guards Parade. Everything so easy. There were no problems at all for June and the w/chair. A good view all around. The walking was long and exciting because we really didn't know where to go next. Finally we had a bar meal at the club and taxied to Euston Station. We were met by attentive staff and ramped onto the train and then ramped off at Penrith some three hours later. Just a matter of the washing machine running and bed. What a super wheelchair friendly trip this has been. I recommend London.
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Check out Syd & June many other adventures:
Weekend in London '07
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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