Wednesday, 30 May 2012

NOOT granted and another NOOT defined

In a little over six weeks I shall (hopefully) be the new owner of a beautiful Haldane Orkney - I am so excited that I would be skipping around if I could........... did do several loops of the bungalow whooping much to Mr S's amusement..........    I had been looking out for a double drive castle wheel for nearly 10 days, and was watching three on E-Bay, when joy of joys a fellow Raveller offered me my heart's desire and I can try it before committing (not that there is any doubt) at Fibre East in July.

I am sure the present owner won't mind me posting this pic of the little beauty - I think I shall name her Patience!  Mainly because I have to wait weeks, but also because I think that I shall need patience getting to know her as I have only spun on a double drive once for about five minutes.............

To console myself for having to wait, I bought the new bag making book form Lisa Liam - A Bag for All Reasons.  It is full of lovely bags that I can't wait to make, indeed I should be finishing off the first one but am waiting for the postie to bring some sewing clips which replace pins and make sewing many layers a doddle!  Also waiting for some of the new interfacing Decovil to arrive - more about these new products soon!

The other need is a new phone - all my friends have now got one of the new smart phones - and I need a new phone - yes really need!  Currently, and for the last six years I have been with Orange, and for all of these six years I have had the most lousy signal at home - mostly there is no network coverage or if we can actually get a signal the call is often dropped.  We live in a dead spot according to Orange, but we tried an 02 Sim and got a perfect five...................... 

In a more philosophical mindset I ask the question - why, when one appliance goes wrong do others join in?  A couple of weeks back our bread maker stopped working, and as Mr S is a coeliac it got a lot of use!  The new one arrived and then for some reason all the bread failed, it either didn't rise or it over-proved and collapsed.  Even the pizza bases didn't come up like normal - was the hot weather affecting the yeast?  Couldn't understand what was going on - then an eureka moment I tested the scales there was the source of all our problems - it was nearly 25% out but not consistently over or under, just wrong!  So now we need new scales to go with our new bread maker and a new door bell.  It had been working on an occasional basis, but gave up altogether this week - so postman please knock........... he did so off to the sewing machine..........................

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Dyeing Success and NOOT

While in London I purchased a beautiful skein of Madeline Tosh Sock yarn in a gorgeous toffee shade aptly named Glazed Pecan.  It was immediately jumped upon by the folks at SpinDyeweavers last Saturday and much admired - it is really much nicer in the flesh than in the pictures on the web!  Well never one to turn done a challenge I have spent several afternoons and lots of mini skeins trying to match the colour.

Think that I am about there, just need to make it less solid, but on a larger skein that will be much easier! 

On a completely different topic - at the Spinning Wheel on Monday we were discussing the differences between double and single drive spinning wheels, (one of the spinners had just acquired a Schacht Matchless)  and as I had tried spinning on a double drive Komski Minstrel only a week or so before I was very interested in the conversation.  I have to admit even though the Minstrel was double treadle it was so well set up that I could get it going with my good leg - and it did spin like a dream..............................

So I need a single treadle double drive spinning wheel, not too much to ask is it?

Currently on the market there isn't a single treadle double drive wheel available (if there is let me know because I can't find one) other than a traditional style wheel and I haven't got room for another bigish wheel  - what I need is a castle type wheel - am I asking for the moon? 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Errata - things good and bad!

I did warn you at the beginning that this was going to be a long story, and if you have kept up - well done! 

Do you wonder why I kept going back for more?  Well, like the curate's egg, it was good in parts!

I got to meet lots a really wonderful people most of whom were doing a difficult job under trying circumstances, and a lot of them were doing it for nothing!  They went out of their way to make things happen, and many of them will be there in September, so perhaps we will laugh over the problems then. 

There were some most charming and helpful team leaders who went out of their way to try and put things right and mostly did, especially those in the Eton Manor Technology Team, the people on the shuttle buses, and the Polish security guard who found the keeper of the keys!
The actual job that I will be doing is exciting and challenging and I wouldn't miss it for the world - the Olympics and Paralympics won't come back to the UK on my lifetime (well perhaps if I live to one hundred and twenty nine plus!), so it is the proverbial  'chance in a lifetime'.

I found that Londoners in general are helpful and chatty and that smiling gets you everywhere.

Remember this was a TEST EVENT - if it had gone right and there had been no problems then no-one would have learnt anything!

And that there are people for whom being nasty is an art and one should feel sorry for them. Because it is so much easier to be nice - smiling uses less muscles than frowning, keeping your cool is good for your blood pressure, saying YES rather than NO makes people happy and best of all nobody likes a misery - smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone - very trite but true!

A couple of little niggles that escaped mention were that:

a) Somebody made a decision to remove all bins from the accessible toilets - there was uproar when one of the cleaners found a used catheter, what did they expect most of the athletes are paraplegics!

b) Only when the only lift broke down, was it discovered that the only accessible route to the Rest Room meant going out side the complex which meant going through securty again!

Oh and yes I will be there in September.................

Monday, 14 May 2012

Test Event - Day Four Sunday

Well it wasn't raining as we drove to Hainault station just after 7am - and even at this time the trains were running every 11mins (Sunday at home you're lucky to get one bus let alone six trains an hour!) into London. Went through the usual frisking routine (sixth and final frisk) and rang for the shuttle.  Access through the Aquatic Centre was open and the lift was working it looked like I might actually check-in on time....

Ha Ha - we waited, no shuttle, 'E' from the Boccia competition also arrived (we had met the day before on the shuttle when we had witnessed the one and only 'common sense decision')  Imagine 'E' is in an electric and it was raining, the shuttle stops right outside the door, but the 'jobs worth' on the gate pointed to a gate round the corner! 

(A little aside that many entertain - all these security people, all in high visibility jackets, on gate duty never or rarely spoke - just pointed from behind what ever barrier they were protecting to some other barrier where there was another job's worth who invariably pointed to yet another entrance even further away from your intended destination - if you had gone with this system I reckon that you could have gone all round the park and never got to see an event)

Its a theory, but back to 'E' and her problem - her carer pointed to the entrance (seemed a good idea to adopt the same tactic) shake of the head and a finger waggled at the other gate.  Now it wasn't as if the gate was locked, the security guy eventually came out from behind his refuge thus opening the gate, so why couldn't they go in that way and keep out of the rain - they had the right accreditation, even the shuttle driver couldn't understand the problem when up pops 'She in Charge' - well 'just this once as it is raining!'  This contretemps had taken a good 10mins and then they had to get her wheelchair off the bus - total wasted time c 15mins

Back to Sunday and the lack of shuttle bus,  I rang again 'Oh haven't they got there yet, I give them ring to see we they are' said the very helpful lady in Transport.  Just as my phone rang 'Transport Two' arrived it appeared that the drivers of the shuttle were still waiting for accreditation to open................??  We would have to use the buggy!!!  Good job that the five accessible buggies had been delivered, for by this time there were three wheelchairs and two walking disabled waiting for transport.   This was going to make my day - turkey man was livid, but Transport Two out-ranked him and he had no choice.......... and I sat on one of the seats (seat belt less) and held my chair - he wasn't go to tie me down.  We were joined by a lady carrying three large carrier bags containing beautiful cut glass awards - she had had the most awful time getting into the Park, there is a no glass rule, but these were for retiring hockey committee members and 'approved items', but she still had problems.  She got off at the hockey stadium and the last I saw she was having an argument with security......

The official check-in time and gone - I was late again!  But there were only two scheduled matches and six of us in each team, a bit over staffed!  I got my name on one of the veggie lunches, (best to be prepared!) and spent most of the morning watching rather than working..................... Time to recount the last encounter with officialdom.

For four days I had been going through a door which was a short route to the lift - that meant that for four days the door had been opened for me by the official on duty - I estimated that I had been through at least a total of 32 times (four days x two (one in one out) x four times a day) but it may have been more - on this occasion the official stopped me - I couldn't go through that door - why not say I - wrong accreditation says he - since when I asked?   I have been using this door for four days (it had been pointed out to me as a short cut by 'he in charge') - no 'number two' on your badge he said - more than my job's worth I am responsible for this door, yes dear reader he actually said 'more than his job's worth' and that he was 'responsible for the door'!  I was having great difficulty in not laughing! What was the door likely to get up too?  Had it history of bad behaviour? The mind boggles! 'Heavy Plant Crossing' symdrone had kicked in!

Another joined him, and pointed to the long way around the building. (I was escorted through by his supervisor in the end!) It seems that at some time between 9.45ish the last time I used the door, and 12.30 when I attempted to go back through some one had re-zoned the area................................ on Day Four of the Test Event!  Apparently I could go out through the door but not in and I did just to prove the point!

Memo to self - buy some Letraset numbers for September..........

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Test Event - Day Three Saturday

This was the best day despite being another wet and rainy day! The journey to Stratford Station was easy, less commuters on Saturdays, but no free papers to read on the journey - but as I was getting quite good at swaying with the train I caught up with some unanswered texts.  Despite the weather the atmosphere was really quite jolly and we joined the queue for the daily security scan - frisk five completed we made our way to the staff shuttle and I managed an imaginary two finger salute to the job's worth on buggy duty. 

Things had been sorted!!! The jobs-worth of yesterday waved us through the barrier and even pointed out the only working lift - things were definitely on the up - we only had to wait five minutes for the shuttle and the lift worked first time .........but the shuttle takes roundabout and tortutous route around the park so I actually arrived to check-in 15mins late - the earliest I had been so far! 

The rotas were passed around, as was the order of play - I was on Centre Court and due to call the stats for Men's Quad Final, plus we were a four person team which would make the job a lot easier.  Our two hour shift began at 11am as did the Final, first set went to the Swedish player Anders Hard and then rain stopped play just as my first shift finished.  Off to lunch only to find that there were no veggie lunches left, it look so appetising that all the meat eaters had gone for the veggie option which sounded far tastier than cold chicken salad, so all I got was a very soggy pesto, mozzarella and tomato sandwich and a hard banana - yuk, but slimming!

Rain stopped just as my second shift began so I actually got to call the stats for the whole match - which was fantastic especially as Peter Norfolk (GB) won in three sets!  There had been a third match schedule for Centre Court, but because of the weather it had been played on Court One, so my day was done.  The ordered Shuttle bus took us back to Stratford Gate and the tube.  If only all the other days had been as good - now if only the weather would improve Sunday might be the icing on the cake.........

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Test Event - Day Two Friday..

To avoid repetition today I shall focus on what went wrong and finish with the good points of the day.  Take it as read that I got frisked (fourth time) again by security and they confirmed that I do have legs even though they were encased in three layers, tights, thermals and sports pants.....

The buggies were at the ready at the pick up point - turkey man was there also, and reiterated with glee that I wasn't going on one of his buggies (you could almost see him dancing with glee) and directed me and another volunteer ('L') for Eton Manor to the worker's shuttle situated by the Aquatic a parting shot he shouted 'you'll not travel unless you're tied down' this I was told had been decreed by a wheelchair user!  Arguing would have brought me down to his level so off to the Aquatic Centre and the worker's shuttle which hopefully would be warmer than the buggies anyway.

Now access to the Olympic park is controlled by the letters on your accreditation - mine was blue with ETM (for Eton Manor).  To get through the Aquatic Centre I needed a red and AQC - so you can't come through here said the security guard - I pointed out that we only wanted to use the lift to access the worker's shuttle bus - which was in plain view!  I suggested that he took us down just to make sure we didn't trespass - no was the reply and 'in any case the lifts aren't working'...............he suggested that we use one of the buggies that were sat doing nothing!  Stalemate.............. I rang my contact, she obviously rang some one else because about 10 minutes later a lift maintenance man and a top security person arrived!  The lifts were working but they had taped them off to stop people using them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Eventually we were taken down in the lift to the shuttle - and then the lift on the shuttle wouldn't come out - another 20 minutes was taken up, and while we were waiting another wheelchair user turned up also to Eton Manor............................eventually they worked out what they were doing wrong and we got on - they didn't tie me down, but weren't happy!  One hour and six minutes to travel 1500 metres must be some sort of world record!!  Perhaps negotiating the Olympic Park in a wheel chair should be included in the Games?

Play began at 10am, and again I was on an outside court.  I was teamed up with a great guy 'P'and we actually managed to record the whole game without a mishap.............. I was beginning to enjoy myself.  Plus I was on rest during the lunch period..................

I also had to make a full report about the morning's fiasco and later it was confirmed that access to the shuttle had been re-classified so shouldn't be any problems the next day!!!  Strangely for two days I and the other wheelchair user 'A' had been scheduled on the outside courts - seemed funny as the others were alternating between Centre, Number One and Two courts!

Here I will just explain that Eton Manor is the only purpose built venue for the Paralympics - it will be used for exclusively for the wheelchair tennis competition and afterwards it will become a hockey venue with indoor tennis courts. Should then be wheelchair friendly surely - oh no that would be too simple - access to the stats area and the press boxes on Court One and Two are not accessible!

On Saturday, 'A' and I would be, we were assured, on Centre Court - that meant being indoors and in the dry.  That and getting home without too much trouble were today's good points

Friday, 11 May 2012

Test Event - day one... Thursday

If you thought that the weekend was a debacle then read on........... Thursday, again raining hard and very cold and this is May!!!  Arrived at the Olympic Park at exactly 7.55am and six minutes later we had run the gauntlet that is security - third frisk.  At the buggy park no buggies - no surprise there - a good ten minutes later several buggies arrived at the pick-up point, but not the wheelchair accessible one (yes there was at this point ONE buggy that took ONE wheelchair, there were suppose to be four/five others but although in the country they had not yet been delivered and this was day one of the test events!) 

It turned up - but I was told that couldn't use it as I was staff and the buggies were for spectators, (this is at 8am and the gates for spectators didn't open until 9.30am) radios were red hot by this time and eventually I was allowed on, and then the fun began - they wanted to tie me down (remember on all forms of London Transport I was as free as a bird) - the driver was not too pleased as his boss turned turkey red and shouted at me, but he drove away when I assured him that I took full responsibility should I fall out!  I would point out here that I had a snowball's chance in hell of falling out and that those just sat like poor Mr S were in much greater danger..................

Arrived to check-in 25mins after my shift was supposed to begin, but as it was still raining play had been delayed until at least 11.30am!!!!  Out came the knitting and I settled down to a quiet few hours.  The announcement came through that play would begin at 1pm, which meant that I had to leave the relative comfort of the 'Team Tent' and make my way court wards collecting the stats equipment on the way! 

Sounds simple?  Well it would have been but...........................................I had to go all around the centre court, down in a lift, outside and round the main building, pick up the stuff, go back around the main building and down onto the courts - it took 20mins....and my shift was for two hours on an outdoor court!  In the meantime my name had come out of the hat as one of two Games Makers picked to meet the Duchess of Gloucester!  Well at least I got to wait in the warm - she was charming and I think that I said the right things, but obviously no curtsy!  Back to court and collecting stats and boy was it cold!  There were two matches scheduled for my court and by the time I was relieved at 3pm they were all but done and I was finished for the day................

One little hiccup I should mention was the fact that lunch was served between 12.30 and 2.30 no exceptions and I was working 1-3pm this meant (in view of the journey to the courts as described above) I had less than 10 minutes to eat it............

As play was over for the day I was told I could go home..........the nice lady in the accessibility tent radio for a buggy with wheelchair access.  10-15mins later a buggy turned up - no wheelchair space!  Re-radioed (is that a word?) for an accessible buggy, nothing came, another call for a buggy went out and another buggy arrived, again not accessible, finally after 45mins the right buggy turned up and we made our way out of the Olympic Park and into M&S for some thermal underwear!!  My legs were blue and it took several hours, lots of hot water bottles and massage from Mr S to bring them back to a reasonable temperature.....................

That was the first day, things could only improve couldn't they, it was a Test Event there were bound to be a few snags along the way - that's why we were there to help sort them out...............

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Rest Days..........

Tuesday and Wednesday were rest days - no training but plenty of rain!  Tuesday we food shopped - I always find interesting the different foods available according to the ethnicity of the customers - and it definitely influenced our shop.  Thus fully stocked with a selection of ready meals on Wednesday morning armed with our free travel passes we set out to put London Transport to the test.  The targets were I Knit London and Loop, that is not to say that there aren't other knitting shops in London, but they were our chosen venues. 

I Knit was the easiest, Hainault to Waterloo via Stratford and the Jubilee Line all very accessible and the shop is only a 10 minute push from the station.  Lovely leather sofa for Mr S and the shop dog (oh I do wish I had thought to take a pic)  Nothing out of the ordinary in the way of yarns, but lace books - well I was spoilt for choice - and bought two and noted down the details of two more......


The next part of journey really put London Transport to the test - Waterloo to Islington, this encompassed, the underground, the overground and the buses and they were brilliant. Waterloo to Stratford was a short hop on the Julibee Line, with a short unnecessary diversion on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) just to test it out, again super access.  Stratford to Highbury and Islington was an overground line, but a lovely conductor got out the ramp and hey presto we were on our way..

Now on the map it looks like a short 'walk' from the tube to Camden Passage and Loop - maps can deceive - it was more like a mile, but exercise is good for you! (or that's what I told Mr S who was beginning make disgruntle mutterings) The shop is not accessible, but I knew that and bumped up on my bum (there are two floors, but lace yarn was downstairs thank goodness) and had a good browse (there were comfy chairs for husbands, but no dog) and I think that I was very restrained - especially as they had the new Brooklyn Tweed in Loft and Shelter! Nice but not very soft.

This is my Loop stash, two Madelinetosh and some soft cotton from Peru.

Mr S rebelled on the return journey to the tube at Highbury, so we caught the bus - just like that!  Out came the ramp up I went and up the road we went - had a chat with a mum and baby about the problems of gaps on the tubes and doing wheelies (which I couldn't demonstrate due to lack of space) the driver let us off at the tube station and all this was free!

At Highbury we held up the train for six minutes as the ramp wouldn't come out of its storage cupboard - but nobody complained - then we were on our way back to Stratford.  I discovered that it is possible to get down from the train on my own (well with a little help from Mr S) so no ramp needed.....and then the journey back to the caravan was a doddle.

You may, dear reader, have noticed that during this expedition at no time did any official attempt in any way to restrain me or my chair - I had complete control at all times - bear this in mind if you read the next episode.........................

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Day Two Monday........

Sunday was wet and rainy and we stayed at home (in caravan) in the warm.  There had been a choice of days for the second day of training so I had opted for the Monday - must have been clairvoyant because Monday dawned bright and sunny and I mean dawned because we were up at six and on the tube by 7.15am...  Armed with two Metro's we were blending in with the regular commuters and having successfully executed a perfect bunny-hop from the train we headed again for accreditation to get Mr S's pass. 

Things were going smoothly - too smoothly for arriving at the only gate open we were confronted with turnstiles, very narrow turn stiles - and there was no wheelchair access except through a locked gate!  These turnstiles had been installed over the weekend and were the only way in until Thursday when the Test Events began.  The keeper of the keys was off-site - we had been waiting for nearly 30 minutes and were now late - so I rang my contact and again the lovely guy with the Golf was sent to fetch me.......  Getting into the park in a car wasn't any easier - three gates and umpteen security guards all saying 'NO' we finally made it to within sight of Eton Manor, but still outside the gates - sniffer dogs, biometric passes and body and bag searches  over we were finally in................ only an hour and half after reaching the main gate at Stratford.

Training was interesting and scary but we were a good group and there was lots of banter so the day flew by and around 4.30pm we had mastered the logistics of collecting statistics.  The sun was still shining and the park looked enticing so we decided to 'walk' out.  After a quick diversion via the Velodrome we started out for the main gate, but there were no walking routes - we weren't suppose to be there - so more security guards to negotiate, but we made it to the gate - hurrah!  The only way out was through - guess what? - Yes, turnstiles and a locked gate with the key holder off-site!!!!  We had an interesting chat with a Polish security guard for the 20 mins that it took for the key holder to arrive and we were free......................

Having discovered on Saturday that the gap between train and platform varies along the length of the station (in the middle of the train there is a step and a gap up of about 6-8inches) we headed to the front of the train and all was fine - armed with a copy of the Evening Standard (free paper) we joined the merry band of evening commuters for the ride back to Hainault and the knowledge that we had two free days (and a free travel pass) before my shifts began at 8.30am on Thursday...............  

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

I've been up to London....

Where I met a Duchess and got frisked six times! And that is just for starters................  For the past week and a bit I have been in London undergoing training for my role as a Games Maker for the Paralympic Games.  So much has gone on, some ordinary and some unbelievable, that I might just turn this into a serial.....

Day One Saturday:  It is important to remember that this was a very wet, windy and very COLD day.  After discovering that our first choice of Underground Station didn't have lift to access the platform we went to choice two - Hainault (here I am assuming that the name derives from Phillippa of Hainault the wife of Edward III and mother of one of my distant ancestors John of Gaunt!) this did have a lift and information suggest that the gap between the train and the platform was manageable.  At 10am having purchased two Oyster Cards we travelled to Stratford Station and join the throng making its way towards the Olympic Park.

First stop Accreditation where we had to wait for Mr S to get let in as my Support Worker - but with our pics taken and sealed forever in plastic we then had to go back out and down the road to the entrance proper (remember it is raining and very cold) then we had to queue for security - we actually out-numbered security at first, but after causing our usual chaos there was quite a queue..... this was frisk number one!

Now I had been informed that there would be a buggy service running for 'the disabled' as Eton Manor (the venue for Wheelchair Tennis) was on the other side of the park, approximately 1500 metres (nearly a mile in old money).  No buggies to be seen - man with radio was sent for and eventually after about 15 mins hanging around in the cold and rain a buggy appeared - now the fun began! 

Remember that I had just travelled on the Underground which goes at some speed in my wheelchair unrestrained - now for a golf-type buggy with a top speed less than walking pace they wanted to tie down my chair - other passengers just sit - me I am supposed to have my legs tied (figuratively speaking that is) - after some debate we set off - me un-tethered and suprise I didn't fall out.......

I don't want you to think that this was luxury - this buggy doesn't have sides, just a canopy, and by this time it was raining heavily and getting colder, sorry to keep harping on about the cold and wet, but I am just trying to set the scene!  We arrived at Eton Manor and had to make our way to the entrance, that is down the slope past Centre Court and around to the other side of the main building!  Here at least we were indoors - and were given a railcard, two t-shirts and a waterproof coat - all with the London Prepares Logo on the back - and offered a hot drink, things were looking up!! 

After the pep talk we were taken on a venue tour - here I should have stayed put indoors, but out into the rain we went and were walked around the site - I expect it will be lovely when the sun shines in early September, but on this wet April Saturday it was gloomy and COLD.  For the rest of the afternoon we went through our roles (more of this later) in the coldest room possible and in damp clothes!  We finished around 6pm-ish, but the buggy drivers went home at 4.30pm and it was still raining hard!  After about half an hour when no transport was forthcoming a lovely guy offered to drive me to Stratford Station - the car had a heater!!!  After running the gauntlet of security and getting lost, because everyday there is a change in access and we couldn't go out of the usual gate, we ended up at Stratford International - onto the DLR to Stratford, then to Platform 6 (which required the use of two lifts) and the tube to Hainault - we got back to the caravan just after 8pm and consumed a bottle of red and a pizza!

The saga continues.....................Day Two was Monday.

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