There seems to be a lot happening at the moment. Actually, one way and another, July has been quite hectic – well, in a Fibromyalgia sort of way. There have been several days each week with things booked in either for me or for FPR, which is unusual. For now, though, a breather is in progress with a visit to my Little Boy and his partner.
Venturing out of home can sometimes feel quite daunting, which is the case at the moment. I had a fall in the street, earlier this week, which shook my confidence. Two lovely young chaps came to my rescue – they reached me just before FPR. I think they must have rescued others as they asked me if I needed a minute before getting up and seemed to know how to help me to my feet. With the experience so recent, the journey ‘dahn saaf’ loomed large including, as it did, a taxi, a bus, a train, a plane and a car.
The taxi was straightforward. The driver was on time and, when we arrived at the station, parked just outside the door. The Rail Replacement Bus wasn’t quite so simple: I couldn’t get up the steps, even with help. I was thankful that the driver moved the bus so that I could stand on the kerb. That extra height made all the difference. It was kind of him to reposition the bus, but doesn’t he know that buses are designed so that passengers can mount from the pavement? Grrrr.
I had booked assistance for Manchester Piccadilly Station. (I had also booked it for Bolton Station but we disabled people mustn’t expect too much, you know.) No-one appeared when the Rail Replacement Bus arrived at Piccadilly but a member of staff offered me her arm to steady me as I alighted. Things improved after that as two security staff came with a motorised buggy to give assistance. They were pleasant and chatty and didn’t make me feel like a nuisance when I needed to go so slowly. Having sat on the train, the Train Manager came along and said she would help when we arrived at the airport. That was just as well as the assistance was booked for a later train! It was not a problem as the Train Manager went to alert staff of the earlier arrival. The railway staff wheeled me to the station entry concourse where two chaps from the airport arrived to assist with the transfer to Terminal 3. These were two more lovely men who were happy to chat. An added bonus was that on that beautiful, bright, but not too hot, early morning they took a route outside the terminal buildings. I can’t tell you how welcome it was to be outside on such a morning!
We went straight to Security, and through to the Passenger Assistance waiting area. I needed something to drink so joined the short queue at the coffee stand next to the waiting area. No sooner had I returned to my seat than another chap arrived to push me to the departure gate. As the gate was deserted when we arrived, I decided to lie down and rest for a while as I was feeling tired. I’m glad I did as it refreshed me.
We were called to the aircraft before other passengers. A platform lift had been requested but a chap came over and asked me if I thought I would be able to climb up the steps, as the platform was too big for the job. As it was a small turbo-prop there were only a handful of steps so I said I would try. He was pleasant and reassuring and said that he and another would be there to help me. I was very pleased that I was able to manage the steps along.
The cabin crew were most welcoming and attentive: I definitely felt well looked after! Another lady was being given assistance and received a similar level of service to that shown to me. We were asked if we would mind waiting until all the other passengers had alighted at our destination before we disembarked and we were happy to do so. Again, everyone was pleasant and helpful.
As for being collected by my Little Boy in his car… Unbelievably, Southend Airport allow just FIVE minutes’ free parking for collecting or dropping off passengers! And the car park is quite a step from the terminal building. That might be long enough for able-bodied passengers, but for anyone else, it is woefully inadequate. I feel a ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ letter coming on.
And, tomorrow, it all happens in reverse! Wish me luck!