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29th September, 2021

“London taxis and getting to experience Chelsea” Georgina’s blog

I haven’t been to London for 16 months and now I’ve been twice in a matter of weeks, oh how times have changed. But this trip brings good news for travellers who use a Whill as we can drive into the passenger section of a standard black cab and fit with plenty of space too!

It was the first time I tried going into a taxi and I was a little worried that it wouldn’t fit or the ramp would be too steep but this was not the case. I was able to drive up into the cab and was pleasantly surprised that I had more room on the inside than when I was in my manual wheelchair. We were going to Chelsea for the day and there aren’t really any accessible underground stations, so we chose to do a black cab from Kings Cross Station to Chelsea and it was just so easy. Reversing out of the taxi back down the ramp was a little bit nerve inducing but I had my mum and taxi driver guide me down backwards. My Whill did give me a warning towards the bottom of the ramp that I was exceeding 10° as the pavement at the spot we were parked at as it was quite low compared to the taxi but it still did it and I was super impressed by my chair, as I always am. Another door opened and another stage in my independence reached.

Last time, it was tackling the underground and this time it was the black cabs, what should I do next?

You may have also noticed that the colour of my Whill arms have changed to a very pretty and stylish white. If you didn’t know this about the Whill, the arm covers are actually interchangeable with a selection of different colours. I absolutely loved being able to style my chair to my outfit and go for a full monochromatic look, I felt so fancy. Another reason why the Whill is perfect for me is because it fully does reflect me and my style. I love the ability to change up my fashion and the fact I can now extend it to my chair too makes me so happy. In my small collection so far, I have the black, white and not seen yet, silver panels. They are all so beautiful and really do change up the whole look of the chair which is just incredibly fun! This chair really isn’t just a chair, I mean I think you can tell that just by the way it looks as there really isn’t anything else like this power chair out there but even still, there is so much more to it than meets the eye on its first looks.

I had never been to the Chelsea side of London before and wow, it was so green and pretty. It was such a beautiful day in London, it was warm and sunny as it was one of those days where we got summer one last time before autumn. There were people enjoying the parks with live music, strings of lights and flags around little squares and outside bars creating a gorgeous atmosphere. It was just such a lovely day. I overheard a woman as she walked past saying how she loved summer days like this in London and I agreed with her. We got some super fancy ice cream from Venchi and it was the best vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had. We also explored Sloane Square which was so calm and peaceful, very clean too. We did some shopping and found a tunnel of flowers, plants and lights. Everything was accessible there, even the Zara shop was super spacious so I didn’t feel like I was going through a jungle of clothes when going between the rails. It just didn’t feel like London, well, not the commercial touristy part, it felt like the real London and I loved it.

One of our favourite restaurants to visit is Bar and Block. Not only does it do great food but the restaurant (and bar) is on the road right next to King’s Cross Station so it is literally just a couple of minutes away – which is so ideal for making sure you get to the station on time. If you’ve used the Premier Inn at Kings Cross, Bar and Block is just next door. I would definitely recommend. The only downside is having to ask permission to use the disabled toilets which really does annoy me. I understand that they don’t want their disabled toilets to be used for anything other than its suited purpose but having to ask for a keycard to enter it gets to me. An adult having to ask to go to the toilet feels so backwards and wrong, it makes me feel inferior. It doesn’t seem fair. If they’re wanting to keep it locked then I don’t understand why they don’t just use the radar key system. The same goes for Kings Cross Station itself, you have to ask someone to come open the door for you as they have a special key. There was one time at the Kings Cross toilets where there were no staff around so there was nobody to open it for me and I therefore couldn’t access the toilet until the train. In the past month I have experienced one of the best examples of a disabled toilet and the worst. Best was SSE Wembley Arena, I used my radar key to open what I expected to just be a single disabled toilet but I was shocked to find a whole row of disabled cubicles. I’d never seen anything like it before and it makes me wonder why nobody else has done this because it’s brilliant. The worst was at Bella Italia in Nottingham, my Whill is small narrow chair yet it barely fit through the door frame and then once in the door you didn’t have space to close it so I had to spend several minutes doing tiny movements until I managed to get the door closed, you can imagine how tricky it was to get back out.  It just frustrates me that in this day and age, simple things like access to toilets for disabled people isn’t easy.

I can’t wait to start going to London more often, particularly since I’ve reignited my love of the theatre with an incredible performance of ‘Heathers The Musical’ at the Nottingham Theatre Royal. Felt so good to be back in that atmosphere. I’m itching to get back to the West End so look out for a possible theatre-based blog soon, hopefully!

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