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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Kate Nash Review - Manchester Academy 2 - October 19th 2013

Just go straight to page 84!
Vents magazine - Kate Nash review

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Guide for "Disabled" festival goers:

Time to swap my shorts for ski pants, for Biffy to become less shirt-less and the butty vans to return back to their industrial estates.  Yes, it's sadly that time of year. The British summer music festivals have all come to a close. As the abandoned blow up beds and tents finally lay to rest in landfill sights, i thought it was only fitting that I compile a guide for next years disabled festival goers.
Wheelchair-aerial view of The Killers at T - July 2013

Is the "Disabled Campsite" for you?
For first timers, it's about making the decision on whether to use the "disabled" camping facilities or not. Festivals are pretty open as to what defines a "disability" and a large number of different people are now making use of the facilities on offer. I've met people with Chrone's disease, autism, visual impairment, MS and bumped into the odd spinal cord injured friend. Large festivals, like Reading for instance, are now asking for proof of disability when you register for disabled camping. (They tend to ask you for a copy/scan of your DLA letter.)

Still not sure?  Liberty with autism says "it's quieter than the other camps and there's always staff to help." Iain, who's deaf, likes to use the "disabled access because it's easier for all the deaf friends to stay close without having to stress too much as it can be hard to hear with all the crowd making noise!" He also mentioned that he loves the atmosphere of the disabled campsite and feels safer as there are less people which makes it easier when people aren't necessarily deaf aware.

If you are opting to book and register for disabled camping:

  • Make use of the "2 for 1" carer tickets available.
  • Book and register for disabled camping tickets as soon as possible, so you're not disappointed...
  • Put the "Disabled registration date" in your diary! Most festivals don't open up their registration up until about 2/3 months before the festival, don't buy your tickets and then forget to register!
  • It will give you and (usually one other person) access to Disabled viewing platforms. (scroll down for more info!)
My faithful Hi Gear proton 2 man tent: £36.27
(discount card price) Go Outdoors.
Equipment tips!

Granted this is mainly aimed at wheelchair users, but it's something to think about, regardless of ability!
Festivals are a good introduction to camping with a disability, as you're in a safe environment with people who can help you out.

  • Big tents that are big enough to stand up in and have a "living space" are great for wheelchair users at festivals. It gives you privacy to get dressed etc. without having to use the bathroom (queues don't often occur, but  sometimes you don't always want to trek!) 
  • Huge tents also give you privacy when transferring from floor to chair and prevent the rain from pouring down on you as you are about to jump into your chair for the day. (It happened to me!)
  • Porches are a saviour! If you don't want to invest in a super huge tent with compartments, that's fine. Just make sure you have  a tent that has some sort of "porch". Most tents do come with this as standard, however some don't. 
  • If you're leaving your chair outside, make sure you take your cushion off and tip your chair upside down! (rain and dew are not nice friends to make first thing in a morning!)
Sleeping stuff:
Temperature regulation is a common issue for people with physical disabilities. It might be summer, but the clearer the sky, the cooler the night!

An example of what camp sites look like on Monday
  • Have at least a 3 season or 4 season sleeping bag. (And if you're a para/tetra, make sure your legs don't fall out in the middle of the night!)
  • When it comes to sleeping mats, i have a self inflating rolling one. It's extremely portable and pretty comfortable. Don't opt for  a basic, flat sleeping mat. You will either get pressure marks (apparently) and will wake up every morning with a killer back. 
  • Inflatable mattress? If that's your thing...go for it. To me, it's not camping but it's great entertainment for fellow campers! One of my highlights at T in the Park was watching a semi-drunk scottish man attempt to squeeze a double blow up mattress into a two man tent whilst holding a can of Tennents!
    Roll up sleeping mat...pretty small?
  • Don't be wasteful! think of the environment! I hate seeing people dumping mattresses, tents and all sorts. Feel free to get drunk and have a blast but think about how you're going to have just as good a time next year or on another camping're wasting your own money and leaving a mess for other people to clean up.

Clothing (obviously from a girls POV, but boys, take note!
Shorts, tights strappy tops and hoodies, lots
of hoodies!!!

  • Shorts for the day! Disability or not, make the most of the sun! Strappy tops; great for when you've got lots of pushing to do!
  • Tights at night. As mentioned, temperature regulation is a bummer. Tights are great, better than jeans and tracksuit bottoms for warming cold legs up. They're "tighter" and improve regulation...especially for paralysed legs. 
  • Hoodies! Take at least two. Remember, festivals can be wet and muddy, there's nothing worse than a wet, muddy hoody! 
  • Waterproof trousers! Later in the season...rain can be chilly...if it's one of those days, shove the waterproof trousers on! (Put them on the top of shorts, so you can take them off when the sun comes out.)
Extra handy things! (pretty general)
  • Don't forget your medication and take more than you need.
  • Alcohol gel is a must! (leg wash, and portaloos!)
  • Wet wipes.
  • make sure your medication and personal care items are protected in different bags.
  • Pack a few extra blankets in your car, just in case you get really cold or all your hoodies get muddy.
  • Lots of towels! 
  • Dry shampoo. (I didn't use the showers at Reading. It's late August and i have long hair that takes ages to dry...)
The reality of "Viewing platforms."
I'm concerned that i've given them a bad press. They're not bad, i just personally never really have a great time on them. Most people i talk to say that they need to be made bigger and the atmosphere on them tends to feel pretty damp compared to the rest of the gig...and most people agree! One issue that is pretty hard for festival organisers to deal with is the fact that some people abuse the platforms. Wristbands have been introduced so that the person with the disability and one other member of their party can use the platform. I completely understand why this is the case. If you're with a group of friends however, it can kill the buzz and people can feel a little left out. As a whole viewing platforms give you a fair and good view and if that's all your after, then you're in luck!

So that's that. I hope this helps you out! Any questions, you know where to ask. I hope to bump into you and not your guy ropes somewhere in the middle of a field, next summer!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Reading festival: Accessible info and reviewed through my rolling eyes...

What sort of idiot flies from Vancouver on a Monday, arrives back in Chorley on Tuesday, attempts to "pack" on Wednesday but finds themselves falling asleep and not moving all day. Wakes up on Thursday, still feels like a zombie, says to their Mum, "I can't go today...i'll die...", the "Way i tend to be" comes on the radio, "American idiot" plays on Kerrang! and within 3 hours is bombing it 230 miles down the M6 to Reading...?
The sort of idiot who's looking like this on Friday:
Rocking out to Frank with Nic and kathleen...awesome
fans from Australia! (Hardcore dude didn't want me to
miss out on any of the set and gave me  a piggy back the
full 45 minutes!

Here's my review of Reading festival from my usual rolling well as a few others thrown in!

Sarah celebrating self
Don't turn up at 9:35pm with a "white parking" permit. For some reason, i wasn't given a "Disabled parking" permit and found myself 4 miles away on the completely wrong end of Reading. We made it back, got wristbanded up and found the parking was brilliant. Just like T in the park, right next to the campsite so there wasn't too much of a roll to our pitch site. Being stubborn, tired and independent young females, we were pretty triumphant in carrying all our kit from the car to the site in one run...
independent living! 
Disabled campsite

It's pretty huge! Arriving pretty late, in the dark meant that i didn't really get to have a snoop and meet the campsite stewards straight away, but we made friends with our near by campers who helped us out! (We'd had enough of independent living for one day!) I'd heard that there'd been a crazy amount of applicants who had applied for Disabled tickets.There must have been between 50-100 disabled campers...maybe more! Watch out for guy ropes, they can be deadly for you, your chair and the poor people who's tent you might accidentally pull down! The info tent appeared to be manned 24 hours with enough extension sockets to power a small village (and everyones's phones!) as well as powered wheelchairs/motorised scooters! Fires were also allowed, which is pretty cool and a few people made use of this novelty. Jet lagged Miss May can only be bothered to be as outdoorsey as her stamina will let we decided to pop into Reading itself, every morning (early afternoon!)and indulge in a healthy, balanced pub breakfast. As a whole, just like at any other festival, the campsite was chilled, less noisy and everyone was open to making friends, chatting and having fun. Great atmosphere and the stewards were awesome to chat to! 
Tent town! 

General campsite facilities    
  • Porta-loo accessible toilets: The usual, it's a festival, no flush. Get on with it! Just because you've got a disability doesn't mean you don't have to experience what everyone else does! I survived!
  • Porta-loo showers: Confession!!...I didn't use them. They looked totally fine, but the weather had began to turn slightly autumnal, i have long, thick hair that takes about 4-6 hours to dry and i didn't want to be shivering and getting ill. Other people seemed to be pretty satisfied with them!
  • Water! Outdoor 
  •  sinks were available, which were pretty darn handy!
Getting around

Reading's pretty flat compared to Vancouver and Chorley so i found it totally fine! Again, i was extremely lucky with the dry weather! (Good choice, not to go to Leeds!) I discovered my freewheel had a loose screw and wouldn't attach to my chair by the second day, so i just gave myself a good workout navigating myself around. A few people did tell me that compared to Download, the access around the arena is terrible, as there's apparently a lot of track put down to make navigating on muddy grass a lot easier.
We won't talk about/mention
how i got here..;)
I'm not sure if this is a reflection on my character, or attitude...but if someone in a wheelchair wanted to buy a beer from the bar, they'd have to roll on to this tiny piece of metal, then once they have their beer in hand...roll off again. It's pretty impossible to not do this without spilling your drink. So you have to ask someone else to pass you your drink, 9 times out of 10 they ordered for me and i can't really complain, can i? 
I also spent 2 nights alone as my buddy, Sarah had to go to work. I was totally fine! This either proves i'm hardcore, or that Reading is a pretty damn accessible festival!

Stages and Platforms

radio 1/nma stage platform entrance
Yes, I sulked at Green Day! I was told the viewing platform was full, so i headed to the front where some woman was "guarding" her 12 year old at the barrier. I nearly burst into tears and said "when i was 12, i wasn't being "guarded" at Green Day Concerts, i was lying in bed listening to them!" She just gave me a guilty, apologetic look as the security carried me over the barrier and told me to go to the disabled viewing platform...I told them it was full, as i had tried to get on it before...they then asked, some how made room and I watched Green Day from there. Can all venues/festivals please, please, pleeeeeaaaaseee employ a rule that you are only allowed onto the disabled viewing platform if you are after having a good time and are not going to sit, miserable in silence? Green Day were fantastic and amazing and played literally all of my favourite songs. But I didn't "feel" it. Live music is about more than just having a "good view", it's about being part of something bigger than selfish desires to see or be near people you admire that play instruments and sing songs. Green Day are my all time, favourite heroes. I've seen them twice live this summer and both times they have been incredible but i've not been able to "feel" it due to being at the back or up high on platforms that i'm sharing with people who are just sat listening. One day i will get to a venue that won't have security turfing me out of the mosh pit and i'll be able to really feel it! One day...
If you're 12, wait your turn to go to Green Day concerts and festivals...i did!!

Other than that though...I made fair use of the platforms from time to time. I managed to get to the front of the festival republic stage to see Kate Nash and have the most random conversation with her! I rocked out to Frank in my usual way and sat at the back with disgust, watching eminem rhyme (So glad i've never wasted any money in investing in his music). I rocked out in the crowd a little to Biffy...:)A lot of people said the viewing platforms were too small and need to be made bigger. I can vouch for that!

Additional stuff!
Attitude is Everything  are a great organisation that i discovered that weekend! Their aim is to improve disabled and deaf people's access to live music! If you're anything like me and love attending live gigs then take a look at these guys and see how you can get involved!

The arena wasn't very good at selling gluten free stuff...T in the park was awesome for that sort of stuff! (SO ha! South of England stereotyping the are 12 times more unhealthy that the scottish!)
ATM's were sort of accessible! I could actually reach them to type my pin in, but couldn't really see the screen...

Great fun! Great festival! Great way to finish off my out for a "top tips for disabled festival goers" with a few more hints, tips and experiences from other people with disabilities!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

WOW petition: Quick mention, i'll do a proper informed blog soon!

 This is the petition calling for a cumulative impact assessment on the welfare (we can already feel the rumblings of) reform that will affect disabled and sick people across the UK. It so far has had over 49 000 signatures and as an e-petition, needs over 100 000, for it to be considered for debate by the Backbench business committee. They are also hoping to raise a public profile using the media and supportive MPs and other figure heads to help stop the injustice thats occurring within our welfare system. If you believe in living in a fair country, but are against the scroungers but for the real people who benefit and make a difference as part of our society (you know, awesome people like me!) Then please just click this petition. Not only will this improve the rights for people who have disabilities, but it will also prove that people with "disabilities" do have a voice and if you take away what we need in order to be great, everyday citizens of society, then we can use them to prove that you can't just forget about us, most of us are still living and doing because we are fighters! And those of you who know me, we are certainly not *push overs! 

*no pun intented!

Sign the e-petition here!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

T in the park! Laura May's rolling review and reflection...

Freewheel, music and the great outdoors are my 3 essential ingredients to a great summer...throw in some Scottish mayhem and you get yourself a great T in the park. My wheels blessed Balado airfield for the first time this year, on the festival's 20th anniversary. Here is a little review of the weekend, giving hints and tips of festival life with a few extra wheels!

"Disabled" camping

Check out our porch!
If you're someone with a physical disability who is put off camping at, (or even going to) festivals because you're unsure whether the facilities will be suitable...don't be! Whether you're a newbie to the dreaded mythological "disabled" world or have had a condition your entire life and a little nervous to venture into sleeping in a tent for a few days for the love of music, be aware that most festivals have a lot of experience in this area and, every year listen and review themselves to see what they can do better to make things even better the following year. (Just like the festival as a whole...!)
It's possible to pack a 3 friends, a wheelchair,
4 man tent and enough supplies for 4 days
of camping into a vauxhall corsa!

The members of staff working and volunteering on the campsite at T were fantastic and great fun to chat and spend time with! They also held the crucial traits of being open minded, thoughtful and one member of staff even held 14 years of experience under his belt, (Shout out to Ian, if you ever read this!) If you needed a hand with anything from arriving with no tent pegs and guy ropes (never borrow a tent off a family member!), to running and getting a towel out of your tent as you're about to get into the shower, they helped out!

Pretty awesome shower!
Yes, you read that right, the Disabled campsite at T had showers! 2 accessible, warm/hot showers to be precise that in all honesty were nicer than some hotels and hostel facilities I have used.

General campsite tips/info:

  •  If you have "routines" do them! Don't make your body suffer because you're worried that other people will be annoyed for waiting, they won't. And if you take a while, do what i do and get up earlier. I assure you, there is a reason why you have these facilities and they are there for your use, so use them!
  • Disabled Parking was right on the campsite, so it was quick and easy to go back and forth between the car to get extra supplies, when needed.
  • There will be a wide range of different people with different disabilities. I found it really cool and interesting, some amazing stories to be shared!
  • If you struggle with floor to chair/chair to floor transfers, take some strong, male,attractive friends...or, invest in a  good sturdy foldable outdoor chair that you can use as a step and leaver to transfer independently.
  • The Disabled campsite at T (and like most areas where "disabled" people commune, i know this descriptions sounds demeaning, but it's the most accurate way of grouping such a large number of diverse people, if i referred to it as the "alternative" campsite, it'd sound like i was camping with Josh Widdecombe and Alt-J!) is  a very liberal, free, open community which is very nice to retreat to at the end of the day, if you get tired during or need to have a few hours to rest up.
  • Don't be afraid to ask if you need anything! (Like Guy ropes...or tent pegs...!)
Getting around!

Kaleidoscope fields looking beautiful, the little hill was
pretty nice to wheel down too!
To say we were luck with the weather is an insult to the term "understatement", but we were lucky! The sun was beating down, the ground was rock hard and probably the best conditions a wheelchair user could ask for. However, there are ways to make getting round a lot easier and yet not feel "singled out" if you're prepared to invest in a freewheel. I wrote about them a few months ago, so check them out!
How to adapt your wheels for the weather!
My freewheel allowed me to push around the entire site independently, yes my friends did push me occasionally but only because of the heat and fatigue. My lovely friend, Danielle, (who won't mind me saying this!)doesn't have a freewheel and had to be pushed around majority of the time. Which is totally fine, but sometimes and as most wheelchair users will agree, it's nice to e abel to have the ability to do something yourself in case you get into a situation where you have to. I live for the outdoors anyway so pushing around a festival for four days is my idea of happiness. For those of you who are more accustomed to tarmac, just prepare yourself mentally and physically for some off-road pushing! (It's totally worth it!)
If it had been raining and mud (like last years T) I would have struggled, but i'd have done it! Freehweels can withstand mud (to a certain extent), but so can mountain trikes...(see above link).

  • Nearer the time to your festival, figure out/estimate what the weather is probably going to be like to assess what equipment would be best to take with you.
Mild/constructive criticism
  • There were ATM's in the arena, however none of them were accessible and i had to get my friend to get my cash. That's totally fine, but having a chair level ATM would be great for next year!
  • (Someone else's' observation) Apparently all campsites had a first aid station, the disabled campsite however, didn't. May also be a good idea to have one of those put in for next year!
Shuttle bus

T also put on a shuttle bus for disabled campers that went around the arena, with stops at the disabled campsite, King Tuts wah wah tent, Radio 1/nme stage, main stage (and another i can't quite remember!) The buses were really reliable, (if not always in sync) and the drivers we extremely helpful! 


All the stages had disabled viewing platforms or at least particular areas for people with wheelchairs to watch in a safe environment. Like most festivals, it run on a "wristband" system, which makes total sense but was a little awkward when there is three of you, as there was only two "platform" wristbands between the three of us. There were families who had booked way in advance who all had wristbands, so if the platform if your place to be and you know you definitely want to go, go ahead and book as soon as you can so you can have access to benefits similar to this. Luckily, i didn't really spend to much time on the platforms...
At a lot of concerts and events, i get told off and i'm made to go and sit on the platform...luckily at T, the staff within and around the arena were extremely open and happy to let people like me do what we wanted! I enjoy being in the crowd and feeling as well as seeing the music and when it came to Sunday at 4pm...there was no way i'd be sat on that platform! My cousin and his friend promised to stay mildly sober until then so i could get a piggy back. Why? You ask. Two simple words...Frank Turner! Yes, my shorts fell down, and I have had acupuncture because it caused my tendinitis to flare up, but it was the happiest gig ever!  It was always was going to be my highlight, but what Mr T says about forgetting about your crap, leaving it at the gate and sharing space with a few thousand people who just want what you want! Forget about all our different lives, dreams and ideas and live in the moment, having fun! What can compete with the kindness/craziness of cousins offering their best friends to undergo excessive physical exercise to facilitate your frank needs, other fans pulling your shorts up, and complete strangers giving G (chief piggy back-er!)  a rest by giving you a piggy back? Not much really! 

T in the Park was pretty damn well happy and fun! If you're prepared to throw yourself in and enjoy a weekend of living life to the full, go for it...regardless of "ability". We are all human, and at festivals i think the best of what makes us who we are comes out. Enjoy! :)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Evidence of the contrast between Vancouver's public transport and Britains'.

There are "problems" described within this article that i never even noticed  when I spent time in Vancouver because, in comparison to Britain, these problems are what i'd call "nit-picking". If you look at it; "nit-picking" is a pretty good stage to be at. Vancouverites with disabilities/mobility problems can now nit-pick at an "accessible public transit system" whilst us Brits haven't even got to that stage yet! We are still moaning, groaning and fighting to get the most basic and yet central and vital transit systems to even have the minimum accessibility that is required...this shows, not only, that more things can always be done to improve accessibility, but it also exposes how backward and inward looking, those in charge of the British public transport system, really are.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

London: Old and stubborn?

They say travelling changes you. It's expands your outlook.  It makes You more tolerant of things you can't control.

...but, London?

 It's my capital city. How can i not love it? Westminster bridge, whitehall, lost looking tourists walking in literal circles round Covent garden...then the other bits, the bits you discover after you come to realise you are no longer a tourist here. The bits like the feel of north London, strolling round camden, people daring to talk to each other in bars, running over German backpackers toes in one really belongs here and especially not I.

Unlike most of my recent visits to London, this wasn't a flying "volunteer" one. This was little old me trying to show my Canadian friend round Great Britain (and believe me, she saw quite a lot in a few days!) allowing her to appreciate how diverse this country is. My friend happens to have cerebral palsy and does not use a wheelchair, however walking and standing for a long time is a challenge and so I really had to adapt and think not only about how to get around in a wheelchair but also how to get around London without walking too far, too often.

Buses are fine for me. Not so great for my friend who's travelling alone for the first time and struggles with direction. However, I pat the buses on the shoulder for doing a good job.

Cabs are fine for both of us, when they stop. (And no, it's not because I look northern!) I have heard off a few cabbies that people drive past when they see a wheelchair waiting because they can't be bothered having to get the ramp out...isn't that kind of their job?

The tube! Don't even go there! I've never been on it! Now, I do know a few spinal cord injured wheelchair users who do use it, but their level of injury is either incomplete or a lot lower than mine and so their wheelchair skills are far more superior. If I ever lived in London, I guess I'd attempt certain lines and stations and improve on my escalator and step skills. However, if someone, for example, a vancouverite wheelchair user who's used to the most accessible city in the world and skytrain, this may prove just a little frustrating...

The truth is. To anyone coming from anywhere west of the west coast of Ireland, London is a beautiful, old story telling grandma who feeds you cakes, stories and enchants your mind. However, once you break that enchantment, particularly looking from a "disabled access" point of view, it's an irritating old man who sits in his arm chair all day, refusing to move and gaining more and more pressure sores as the time goes by and the grandkids move on. All the while, grandma is left alone; bslowly but surely forgetting her stories and no ones here to make any new ones...

And sadly, as a disabled traveller that's what I'm worried London will start to become. Many things need to be done to make London a more accessible city. If you believe the rubbish reasoning that the tube cannot me made accessible because it's a very old transport system then well done you, go join the closed minded crew. But if you're like me, and acknowledge that yes, London and the tube and everything about the place is "old" but with the right thinking and innovation, can be adapted, then please don't just accept and hide behind the "we can't do this because of health and safety" excuse. Make a sacrifice, spend some (and I know it's a bloody lot!) money because you know, I might start spending some in your business, too!

The one thing I loved about Vancouver is I didn't have to spend my life in "mainstream" shops I could find anywhere...I could get into pretty much every shop. In London, in these huge grand buildings, there's always a tiny and yet high little step blocking my way into any place that isn't a Starbucks...yes, if im alone (which i often am, i could ask a member of the public to give me a hand, but why should I, when I know I want to just have a browse and that flattening a high step in a huge porch way would not ruin the history of the building, it'd just be a tiny, simple adaptation.

I always say it, but we must adapt in order to survive. Right now, London might still be a cuddly Grandma with lots of stories to tell, but give her and the gran kids a few years, let them grow up. If old grandad doesn't get off his back side and do something soon, then the grand kids will stop coming to visit.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

I am a reflective being, so hang on!

No, I have not written much.
yes, I have been busy focussing on all of the usual paperwork/application process of getting into University.
I'm back home in the UK until August and I have lots of fun, crazy things planned...and already started some of them.

I lasted just two days under my own roof. As i was invited to a "mini festival" or "wed stock" to
celebrate a marriage, it was fantastic and I made some great new friends, as well as enjoying fantastic live music in a field somewhere between Preston and Clitheroe! >>>

<<< I've finally seen Green Day (my absolute heroes!) Live!...i think my face says it all! I hate to idolise people but in that face, right there, is an 11 year old girl finding an outlet...she just now happens to inhabit a 19 year old life and body!

Then by some crazy, "only me" way I ended up in some sort of caribbean fashion show at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury!

And this weekend I'll be catching up with my Back Up buddies and going Water watch out!

But in the meantime there will be posts, helpful, non-ranty posts...i promise!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

We shall not overcome.

Ok, so it's about time i did/said wrote this.

I've done a bit.
First season.
Started in September at the Chillfactore or chilf (in joke).
I was doing pretty well there in a tessier, on a mono and was actually having runs without falling over!

Then i came to Canada for my gap year, hoping to learn how to ski and spend lots of time skiing. I've not had a solid season. I've had a season of bursts and shoots and that's kind of taken it's toll i guess.

I've also had a season of a lot of different sit-skis...i referred to myself as a "ski ho"by March...having skied in a Tessier, prasch, revolution and now finally a hoc!
I've also skied in quite a few different therefore i've also had a lot of different instructors.
Which is fine. Really it is, i'm at a stage in my life where i'm very teachable (never ever mouldable) but i listen and take on board and in every single school report below the "Laura needs to concentrate more and stop talking" there has always been "Laura is a pleasure to teach"...:D

But sit skiing is different. It's not History, there's no dates to learn. It's not politics, there's no core notes. It's not lit, there's no essays. It's sit skiing. You are you, on a mountain in a piece of a equipment and your body and your brain and an instructor and extra person to pick you up when you fall. And it's not about thinking, it's about feeling...something i have trained myself to not do when i'm in a "learning" environment...even though "feelings" are what have driven me to learn and do the things i've done. It's these last few weeks i've realised i'm so glad i decided to do what i'm doing and "get out" and...well feel and then do what's right. I think you can train yourself not to feel.

There is a point to this. Bare with me. (Yes, i still write how i talk.)

So you get different instructors just like you get different teachers and they all have their own way of teaching, own way of understanding and so you have your own way of learning from them. For someone who does what she wants...i'm constantly thinking about others. And constantly forgetting about myself...and when i do think about myself it can often be pretty negative...i stop that and think about other stuff!
Well with sit don't do that. You don't even think about yourself...and that's what was happening. I'd stopped thinking about others and then began to think negatively about myself and how my spine just will never be bloody well straight. How can i ski? Skiing is all about being perfectly balanced and straight and, that's me sitting up straight. (Shows how much work i used to do at college...look at the revision going on...getting people to take pictures of my spine whilst...revising politics...)
And when i get down on myself. I get down on myself. I become extremely frustrated over tiny things and constantly try to change something and "overcome" parts of me. And fail, because you can't overcome how your body "is" yes, you can i suppose go and have an operation...(that sort of goes wrong and paralyses you.) and make things as good and as "normal" as they can be but there are some parts of you that you can never change. And my wonky-ness is one of them.

So this anger and frustration at myself due to having to constantly explain about my spine to different people and trying different things to compensate turned into i was having terrible crashes and was constantly tense from it all. And by the end of February i had back tracked onto a bi-ski, on tether, with no confidence or self belief in my ability whatsoever.

But i carried on because...well, it's what i do. In any challenge in life...i don't give up!

So after many ups and downs i decided to go up to Whistler...i've skied at Whistler before and made great progress there and now i have my own beautiful sit ski...i might as well try and get used to it and a place where i'm pretty comfortable. The best thing about Whistler is the skiing is chilled instructors spend all the time we have going up the gondola or magic carpet or chairlift making sure my head is calm and body is calm so i can ski. And i could see, and my instructors could see how crazy my anxiety is. How loud and noisy and all over the place my brain is (Though some people would call this intelligence) and how it's affecting my skiing and how i was constantly, and i mean constantly getting angry at my spine and trying to somehow make it straight when i turned and then...fall over...

And then it just sort of hit me. Like a painful high side that makes your shoulder pop out...self embracing Miss May? Where's all that stuff gone? All those words about accepting and embracing who you are within the everyday normal concrete and boring laminated floor boarded world we live in. Why don't i just actually now start to practically and physically embrace it when i ski because...i know how to ski. I just need to find my own way. I have my own way, we all have our own way just mine is totally the opposite way to how it should be...but that's ok.

So i did. i thought about bits of my body i know and how they work and feel and what i to go with my ski when i turn right i have to tilt my head a little, when i turn left none at all...and i could ski! I still fall over, i still lose my balance and i still hit the snow with my outrigger but...i've definitely found my own way by not trying to "overcome" anything just by accepting that this is my way and if it looks odd then...get over it, because i have.

And then my lovely favourite bearded boy with a guitar from the south west of England released a single...and it had a b-side song. I'd heard it before, live at the gig i went to in november. He introduced it saying how it was about not being really very good at sport at school and doing things your own way. I was never any good at sport at school but i'm good at my own type of sport in my imaginary school and i most definitely do have my own way of living.

So i guess this song appeared at the right time in the right place and honestly...since my week in Whistler i feel so much happier with myself and who i am as a person. I'm less self conscious, i'm less worried about what people think, and i really love how my mind has calmed down. It's still mad and bright and all over the place but i'm ok and i know what to do when it's going into overdrive.

See...there's this irritating worldly obsession with perfection and things being a certain way and if something is done a different way...then it's wrong. Well my entire life is "adaptive." Everything i do, i do it differently in order to just get stuff done. It's like within the spinal cord injured world...there's lots of us. Some people are obsessed with "walking again" because that is "right" that is how we should be. We should be upright and walk and not use wheels. Some aren't bothered and some...well I'd hate to walk again. It'd freak me out because i'd be so high up and i'd walk funny because of my wonkiness and you know what...i quite enjoy looking at how far i have come in adapting in order to live the way i do. So there's some things we can never have. And some things we can, but we just need to get them in our own way.

So my sit-ski season.
it's been all i've wanted it to be, to be honest.
I don't want to be a racer...i'm an explorer/nosy person/adventurer...and i like the feeling of's like riding a bike.
But i've really found how strong i actually am internally and how tough i am externally and on myself.
But now i know...i've got to really physically embrace my physical self, not just think happy thoughts so i can do it all mentally because that can just cause crazy confusion!

So my first season has had crazy ups and downs but lots of laughs and good times and people and millions and trillions of moments i wouldn't even be able to fit into a blog post because they're pricelss and mine and i'll cherish them forever.  So listen to that'll forever remind me of my first season and how being you in every aspect is ok, or just how it is! And if that's not ok then... just go home!

i just like this picture of my dog in my thought i'd share!

Oh...and i kind of forgot to mention how i lost my ski on the Lion's gate bridge...but we don't need to go into that. ;)

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Emmy The Great - Iris

I love Emmy The Great. Probably my favourite female artist.
And her songs are so relatable.
This song and this video even is a very easy/creative way to explain how things are, how i am and how i still am that curious little girl running round the garden getting her school uniform muddy and doing weird things in the shed and talking to trees...
I still do that, but observe and look back at things with a  guitar in hand. :)

The blogger is back! Maybe i was hibernating?

So I guess I've been taking "time off". Not time off from doing anything, but time off from presenting and portraying and sharing what i do with the wider world. Though, my usage of Facebook has skyrocketed! Instead of thinking too much about what i'm doing and being well focussed and driven i've been going along through feeling. Which is fine, and ok. This is my gap year, my year off; and let's face it, i think i am allowed to do that!

However...over the last few weeks...the guilt has began to creep up my wonky spine and the feeling of slouching into a comfortable rut has began to make me restless as i've watched the sun slowly creep into my mental cave. Yes, i get moments of paranoia and worry that I haven't "done enough stuff" but i've come to discover that this anxiety is very much a part of me and i will always be like that. Whether it's on a day where i've spent too much time on the internet, trying and failing to sing and play guitar or one where I've got up at the crack of dawn, skied peak to creek, pushed 2 miles and made a jelly. (i don't know where "making a jelly" came from...but it's a good example!)

I guess the best way to describe how I have been recently is, "19". Well...the nearest i can get to acting my age that is. I'll always own an old head on young, battered shoulders but recently i've just thought.."f*** it". And relaxed. Well, now i'm bored and restless of that.

My hair is back to being colourfully dip-dyed...(purple this time folks!), the wandering round Downtown Vancouver listening to "This is England" and "straight to hell" will continue, but the drive and momentum has returned. I don't know where from, but it has. It's a little like when your a kid and the week before you start back to school during the summer holidays you feel ready to write essays about a new period of history. Or a more accurate comparison to my situation right now, is a little like my study of American civil Rights. It's time to step things up a notch and look deeper and work harder. Like...going from my year 10 perspective of "MLK is good, Black Nationalism is bad" to my year 13 "crazy idea" of, "I think i'm going to do my entire history coursework on Black Nationalism" and then proceed to get full marks from it. (I still smirk gleefully at this accomplishment!) Though a lot like my Black Nationalism coursework...(and the staff of the Winstanley History Department will vouch for me!) I really, really struggle with organisation, structure, focus and time keeping. It's just how I am. But when i tackle these little characteristics and tie them down  and actually get to the point and focus on what i want to achieve then...well...the outcomes can often turn out pretty amazing! There was this day, (probably pretty much exactly a year i spookily just read a "deadline"status from the history department's Facebook) where i was sat in the history cupboard with Ruth (my former teacher) with one of my many drafts of coursework splattered  mixed up and all over the desk. "This is good!" She said (along these lines at least) , "It's just all mixed up and there's extra bits you don't need, thrown in..but it's finding those bits to take out, without getting rid of the good stuff that's difficult!"...and that's me. That is an exact and perfectly accurate portrayal of my brain, heart and everything in between. But it's ok. I know that it is possible to sort it out and get what i want from "it" in order to do great things. As...well, i've done it, haven't i? From that mixed up mash of words, ideas and new exciting discoveries...i got full marks! All through shear hard work, focus and some how managing to tame the "wild parts" of me that make me "me" and fuel the successful "me". They just sometimes create way too many emissions!

So I know I can do it. And by writing this, I am making a start of "doing it" and addressing "it." I will never attempt to remove my crazy excited and hyper-active characteristics that allow me to be a political-historical geek/Folk-punk rock fan who watches the BBC 6 o'clock news at 11am.; Who also bizarrely wants to build a career in outdoor adaptive recreation and use my skills that i steal from all over to create something brilliant! It would be stupid to even attempt that. But i can figure and now pro-actively control and mould my own characteristics and emotions the way i want, not what anyone else wants and do that with the physical and concrete aspects of my life. I get anxious when it comes to decision making through the fear of "letting people down". Being injured at what now looks like a very early age, i've become all too aware of the stops people appear to put out in order to allow me to do what I want to do. But that sometimes, is just how it is. And i've got to just allow myself to to breath, relax and understand that it is ok to change your mind and kindly decline offers...even after accepting them because well..yes, i may be "Marvellous Miss Laura May" who appears driven (apparently) but i'm 19 and my life has been a roller-coaster over the last few years. I've now had a bit of time to slow down and think a little...i've taken a step back away from the track and instead of jumping on a flying train a million miles long packed with people, suitcases and stray dogs, I've decided to wait for the bus's just arrived and looks half full to me.

In short, I'm declining my accepted offer from the University of Cumbria to study outdoor education and I'm going to apply to study Outdoor Recreation Management at Capilano university Vancouver.

It's amazing what you can discover when you're not really searching.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

I should have written but i've been busy and it's been so long do i fit 3 weeks of vancouver/Whistler into a tiny blog post?

I promise i'll make a video log...that'll probably be easiest way to get the crazy fun across!
I just made a little Facebook status...that is totally not accurately about my trip to Canada but it's true and  a bit of a round up to make you think and realise, even on the most normal days where not much happens, "wow, i got here and i've done stuff and everything i've done and people around me have done is why i'm here..." That may be a good or bad situation and from that thought...well you know that you can move forward. Maybe i should do exactly that in moments where i think i am the world's most terrible skier! 

"Sometimes we get so stuck in the moment that we just need to take a breather and look at our past to see the bits and pieces that have built up to make us who we are now and realise that right now is just another bit or piece to our puzzle-ing lives! Mine is a supersize 3D jigsaw with electrical buts, running water and the odd broken bit hanging off...Basically i've had a quick scroll through my facebook timeline from when i joined and oh my my life has been...interesting...lots of bits and pieces...i always wanted but never believed i'd be doing what i'm doing right now. No, i'm not in some top flashy university or job but i'm building...i'm adding bits and pieces to my puzzle...(yes, i still write and use words like i did when i was 10) and know that i'm on an interesting and fun, exciting path that's true to me. We're all the same really...and the truly amazing bits of us remain forever...and so do the dorky, awkward parts that we don't always like to admit to...i'll go watch the thick of it and sleep...good morning britain! mwahaha i am soooo upside down!"

So...i haven't taken any pics of myself much but i've taken pics of stuff!

Few from the Gondola of grouse mountain, coming back
from one of my Wednesday night ski lessons.

I tried out nordic skiing! It was pretty easy to be honest...
think i shocked a few people at how strong i really arm. Do
not be mislead by my skinny-looking body|!

Went on a bit of a roll to Britannia Bay (ye, really weren't very original
when we named places over here...

This is me near the top of Blackcomb with Sian's wonderful
yellow i left my beautiful black one in the bar
on top of Grouse...oops!

Meeting a family pet! Charlotte the cute!
She huffs like angus!

A really random steam powered clock in pretty gas town
it's the "old" looking part of Vancouver! 
Got to have goggles to match my dyslexia, right?

A beautiful view of the mountains from coal harbour...just went
on a push to exercise and discovered it!

And for future...this is the view from my hotel.

So ye, I'm having  a pretty good time!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Things are moving quick and productive with my "getting to Vancouver" plans...but seriously, sometimes..what a faff!

I promised this blog wasn't just going to be all "oh wow, i had this amazing experience!" So, this isn't a negative post. This is a reality post of stuff i'm having to do at the moment to get places. It's not a moan it's a "This is what i've got to do." it might possibly help someone or it might just inform and make a few people who've never thought of stuff, aware of what i've got to do in order to just be free and go over to Canada for four months on my own.

None of what i'm doing is new. So many eople do this all the time...just thought i'd write it down. :)

To make things simple, and easier to manage what i tend to do when i'm planning anything (like most people) i break things down. Initially i break tasks i need to do, when it comes to "going places" into able bodied/non-able bodied stuff. So your normal "sorting phone, money..." which apparently sometimes people find stressful (seriously, i have to laugh when i see my friends getting stressed by this student finance is nothing compared to the extra i have to put up with!) i'm finding right's an extra add-on!

So travelling as a paraplegic 19 yr old with a fringe...
Within Britain...easy. Just attach a wire to top of your boot and shove what you can in there and bam!

Not so simple across seas and continents and as many frank turner-type explanations i can explain my life with...

If you have meds, which admittedly i do, (mainly for acne) you've got to get them in bulk as we
(Britain) are blessed with the NHS and don't want to be paying full wack in another country. The amount i need to take isn't so bad, and if you go face to face to your surgery and say, as I did,"I'm Laura May, i'm going to Canada for 4 months on my gap year and i need that much supply for my medication that's on repeat prescription..." They're pretty good an are like "ok!"
(despite the NHS website saying that a Doctor can only supply 2 months...which proves, as usual, if you just "go for it" you can get it..)

Catheters anyone? i now use coloplast ones and let's face it, i wee a lot!
An interesting occurrence occurred yesterday...i called coloplast to explain and ask if i could get 4 months supply sent over. They're not allowed to...and i found out some really interesting stuff too! apparently  a little box of 30 coloplast speedicath compact catheters is worth £ yes, i worked out that every time i go to the toilet, it is worth £1.67 (rounded up)...sad? Of course i am.
So...i could take 750 catheters over the sea and even more land...but what i'm going to do is get my parent to send them over in month-month supply through a courier as again, it would be so much cheaper than buying it when i get to Canada...£50 a week? C-razy!
So that's moving along...but then the interesting occurrence occurred when the lovely lady on the phone noticed that my GP hadn't payed for my prescription for the last few months and i luckily had enough to cover what i needed...otherwise i wouldn't have been able to get catheters. This has happened in the past and apparently happens a's all to do with the fact that instead of faffing around running back and to to the doctors and chemist i just call up chartered healthcare and they sort all that stuff and i get my catheters delivered the next day...which is great! it's just not when the "professionals" don't do what they should to make life easier...
Hopefully it will all be sorted and i think a renewal for my prepayment prescription certificate is on the cards...don't think i received my last one in the post...even though i did pay!
Oh and then there's the almost faff of trying to sort out getting an indwelling catheter...and needing a travel certificate as you know tubes on legs and stuff...i got a bit of hassle in belfast when they found my intermittent catheters let alone one attached!

So there's a tiny chunk of a day i managed to bundle an hours skiing, mcdonalds and a few rows of knitting into as well...things are getting there and all is good. I'm sad, i get a weird buzz out of getting stuff moving..but it's just me, and i'm lucky i can grab it and do it...

There's a lot more stuff to do!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Mum's gone viral!

No...she hasn't...there's just a few gifs floating around the internet of Jonnie peacock and Adam Hill sitting on Josh Widdecombe's knee and she's in the background...
(She's the woman in the orange cardigan on the left...!!!)

I wish there was one of her face at Adam's...that was the best face to ever be on a gif...ever!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Quick response to a newspaper cartoon: British government's attitude towards people with disabilities, and i mean "real ones"...

This sums up the current British government’s attitude towards disability pretty well…”oh wow you can win a marathon, you don’t need dla…”
Followed a link on twitter today...and there was simple but informative article in the mirror about how many actually think the paralympics has had  a negative effect upon people's perceptions of disability..

Now, as a very bad person (apologises to History skills) I'm going to sort of sit on the fence, but dangle two legs over one side...personally, i think the paralympics have been great for what people think of people like "me" as not only, to be a paralympian or just cool like me and do cool things, i have to adapt and use different things to function as an "ordinary" human being and then on top of that to do the things i do...well...i just do extra..A lot of people are now aware of that, (and have been for sometimes) but instead of going 'oh isn't she marvellous?" every time i roll into they don't need to!  Which is good, right? But sadly some people only see the superhuman mask, which being big headed, we deserve...but some, especially those who think they know it all, like our government, forget the "human" side.

So here's my initial reaction to the article/cartoon:
No, you Tory twonks. if i, and a lot of other people didn’t have dla we wouldn’t have the money to do ordinary stuff that then enables us and allows us to do ordinary stuff that then enables us and allows us to do “amazing things”…what i do, doesn’t just come out of thin air it comes from me being able to afford, thanks to dla, petrol so i can travel independently, wheelchairs, prescriptions, extra medical supplies, rent is higher in accessible housing(when you can find it) the list goes on….being a para is expensive and in order to be ‘me’ i have to have the tools to make myself into who i am…but sadly this government will probably take away benefits from people like me but will allow lazy arseholes who refuse to have ambition and are quite happy sitting at home, slip through the net. while people like me who yes, have physical “issues” but are open and adapt and strive to live life to the full will suffer…Do they not realise that these cuts to people who are able to work will make amazing, skilled people stuck at home and won’t be able to work and so..hmmm triple dip recession? So not only will people not be able to get in shops to spend money (access here is shit)…they won’t be able to work in the first place and that, my friends is why i am like…you know what, I’ll do what i do and hope that i enlighten myself and a few others and be happy. Sometimes, most often to be honest, you can change the world without trying.

I'm sure you can all pick at it, and argue...but seriously...