Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Anglia Railways

Hi! All!

Go on now! Confess!

How many Easter eggs did you manage to eat this year?!

We had a rare experience this April in MS Awareness Week! I decided to do some research into the standard of access for people with disabilities of my region's public transport facilities. I wrote to Anglia Railways - the company who run the trains where we live - and boldly asked for two 1st Class (cheeky or what?!) tickets to London and back to do my research and promote our cause. They only said YES! AND they would provide publicity for us as well!

When the day arrived, we rolled up to the station, my wheelchair all decked out in MS bunting and us in Jooly's Joint and MS Society t-shirts! We had a welcoming party - only three people but nevertheless photos were taken and commuters were amused so, a good start! A gorgeous porter wheeled me up a ramp into the train and off we went! The carriage itself was an old one so we couldn't have my chair with me and I had to rely on furniture and my Arf to keep me upright. It was lunchtime so our thoughts turned to food - as always!

One BIG problem - I couldn't get to the dining coach. My balance wasn't good enough to allow me to lurch between the seats. "Oh calamity!" said my stomach! However, a kindly attendant offered to bring us some tea and coffee plus sandwiches - not exactly the lunch we had in mind but thoughts of starvation over-ruled, so we thanked her and waited. Well! The soggy sandwiches proved inedible on my part and my tea consisted of hot water and one teabag - no milk. Arf's coffee seemed to be missing the 'coffee' bit so he had hot milky water - not much to choose between the two! We didn't complain though, as we had already told our contact at Anglia Railways that we would tell it as it was with no punches pulled!

As we neared London, the weather grew colder and colder and so we stayed on the train until it was time to come home rather than explore the station and freeze! Arf mistakenly told the Chief Attendant that I wasn't very well when he was asked if we needed the ramps again and I was suddenly surrounded by three handsome hunks who wanted to help! I almost decided to faint - the idea of being carried off by these three men proved hard to resist - but I smiled sweetly and said I was OK, thank you!

On the way back to Norwich came the toilet adventure! I've decided that if you are disabled, God should provide your with an extra arm so you can hold onto something when on a train rattling along at 90 mph! I managed to wedge myself between the loo and sink to dress myself but my trousers never did find themselves correctly round my middle. However, I smiled as I staggered from the loo and hoped no-one would notice!

We arrived back home tired but happy. We refused to accept donations offered as we weren't licensed to collect money - I'm not sure whether the cash was for MS or for my surviving the train ride! We made three local papers - one with a photo - and Anglia Railways featured us on their website, as did Jooly. You may have seen my grinning face already!

Our comments have been sent to the company regarding too little room and the toilet from Hell. Apparently, new trains will have better facilities! At least we did something! See ya next month!

Take care of yourselves!