London in Springtime
by Syd & June Burns 2007 

 

Syd and June Burns, of Penrith, England, couldn't resists another holiday in London. As usual, they made the most of their brief stay and generously shared the following daily diary of their family holiday.

 

Tuesday 10 April

 

The train from Penrith to London was on time and June was assisted aboard with the usual Virgin efficiency. However after a few stops we found that the train was really getting crowded. By the time we got to Preston there wasn't a seat on the train and people were standing and some getting almost hysterical over the situation.

 

The first-class compartments were opened up and that only alleviated the problem until the next stop. June was surrounded with people with luggage, but there was nothing we could do except have as good a humour as possible. It was a real soft shoe shuffle to get June to the toilet. It appeared that there had been a fire at the final destination Euston and the three previous trains had been cancelled, so it was a matter of every man for himself. The train arrived on time and it was a relief to get to the Union Jack Club without any more hassle.
 

June at Shakespeare's Old Globe Theatre on the South Bank of the Thames.

We were met like old friends, up to the flat dropped the cases and we were out for a walk along the South Bank of the Thames. The weather was good so was the weather and toilet facilities for June. I really urge any disabled visitors to the UK to obtain a RADAR toilet key. The following web page explains all at

http://www.radar.org.uk/radarwebsite/tabid/41/default.aspx

 

Sitting outside, looking across the river, eating fish and chips in a very wheelchair friendly pub really made the bad journey fade into insignificance. We walked a couple of miles in total, getting back to the club for an early night.


Wednesday 11 April

 

Out early as Ian had obtained tickets for The London Dungeons. June and Sheena decided they would go shopping at Harrods and we would all meet up later. There was a huge queue of several hundred people waiting to get in but as we had tickets we were fast tracked and jumped the queue. The Dungeons was well laid out and showed the worst face of London from The Great Plague, the fire of 1666 to Jack the Ripper in the 1800. It was all set up for the kids but it was bloody, gory and very smelly. They made it as authentic as possible. Definitely NOT suitable for wheelchairs. Picking up the ladies we had a fast food meal, visited Trafalgar Square. Really good disabled facilities there and then spent several hours getting entertained for free in Covent Garden. Other than a few cobbles, which June hates it was all accessible. Great fun. We had an Italian meal which was pretty mediocre opposite Waterloo Station. A place not to be revisited we thought. Back to the club to finish the night off in genteel surroundings, amongst other things the drinks are relatively cheap.

 

Thursday 12 April

 

June takes advantage of the elegant
Greenwich Palace's accessible loo.

Off to the regenerated London Docklands. We decided to take a taxi and sort out rail transport on the way back. The vast majority of the tubes are NOT w/chair friendly and we tend to avoid them. The Jubilee Line we were informed, is completely friendly. There are magnificent buildings on the docks, all new and there are ramps everywhere.

 

We visited the Docklands museum where I as the pusher got in for free. Really well done and June said it was a pleasure to get around. All the facilities are friendly. Feeling brave we decided to take the light railway from Docklands to Greenwich which was about a 15-minute ride on a computer-operated train. It looked really strange, no driver. There was a lift to take us to and from the platform, the disabled access was right where the line said it would be. What a delightful place Greenwich is.

 

 

Alas, the Cutty Sark sailing ship was under repair. We found a lovely old pub with more beers for sale than I have seen in years. That was our lunch break. Great facilities. We then walked into the Greenwich Royal Park to view the meridian line. It was a hard push to get to the observatory. We found to our joy what must have been the most elegant disabled toilet in the world. It was part of the palace, we think. Still it was a superb situation Spending many hours in the park it was time to return to the centre of London via the rail system. Scary as we had left it till rush hour.

 

Greenwich Prime Meridian Line

 

Disaster struck at the departing station back to Docklands, the lift had broken down. We were offered no assistance and had to walk about half a mile to the next station. Not a big deal, but annoying. No problems after that getting to Docklands where we caught a tube to Waterloo Station which is one of London's biggest. It was heaving with people and it was like the Ben Hur charge as June and I ram rodded ourselves aboard. Really there was no problem, it was just a matter of being brave. We thought it great fun and everything was perfect for a wheelchair. The next time though we will avoid rush hour. Go placidly. We were all pretty worn out by the time we got to the club and decided to have a meal and finish the night off in the bar.

 

Friday 13 April

 

A visit to St Paul's Cathedral was the first of the day. It is well sign posted for w/chairs and after ringing a bell the huge doors opened to let us inside. June and I had free admission the others didn't and it cost 25 for a family ticket. Ian was not amused. We couldn't take pictures inside, which was a shame because it really is magnificent. Extremely accessible with the exception of course of the spiral stair case to the very top of the dome. We offered to help June and every one was falling over giggling as Ian offered to carry her up. 259 to the Whispering Gallery where a whisper on one side can be heard on the other. Didn't work for us. Up another 119 to the Stone gallery on the outside and finally up to a total of 530 steps and the Golden Gallery offering terrific views across London. My legs where on fire by the time I reached gold. Really fantastic. From there we wandered around the financial sector, viewing The Bank of England in Threadneedle Street and where the great fire started in Pudding Lane in 1666. Next was a visit to view the outside of the Tower of London. We were churched and castled out by this time. Had a good feed there and the disabled facilities were once again with a RADAR Key. We walked back along the Tower side of the river which we estimated to be three miles give or take. We had a Thai meal, which was not to everyone's taste but there was enough variety to cover all eventualities serving some European dishes. June and I thought it was wonderful. The others alas are more conventional in their eating habits. It was called the Thai Silk. Joan St. near Waterloo Station. No problems for wheelchairs.

 

Saturday 14 April

 

June enjoys the balmy spring
day at Trafalger Square

Just a walk to Trafalgar Square to take in the last sights before catching the train home. We never realised what excellent facilities there are on the Square. June had no problems at all. We people watched and then went home. Because of the weekend rail track works we had a taxi laid on at Preston at Virgin Train's expense to run us the 70 miles home. Guess what, they knew nothing about it. June and I sat in the sun while people sorted it out. After a short time a big car arrived and we were home safe and sound. A terrific holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Amsterdam '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

Barcelona '06
Palma Mallorca
Tenerife
East Coast Of America (Boston to Richmond and return)
Chicago and Las Vegas
 

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