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.