Travelling to Palma Mallorca with Hal we were interested to find out how accessible Stansted Airport was and the news is good – we were very impressed.
Special Assistance is located just inside the terminal building and the staff are welcoming and helpful. They accompanied us to check in (where there were a few perks for special travellers, such as free check in for hand luggage and no queues). Then they took us to security via the special assistance fast track which was super quick. Hal and his wheelchair were thoroughly searched, though I’m not a bit surprised as he is obviously a villain.
Isn’t it time for tea? We were booked on an 8pm flight so it was crucial that Hal had something to eat – he is extremely vocal when hungry and we wanted a peaceful flight. Roger spotted a Wetherspoons (it’s an instinctive thing) but it looked a bit full. We needn’t have worried. Scott and Julia went out of their way to accommodate us, cleared a table, brought us drinks and served Hal’s food, and did all they could to make us comfortable and relaxed. Hal scoffed his fish and chips with alacrity and my Gin Fizz was really rather good.
Getting onto the plane. This was no problem at all. Special assistance staff took us to the plane, a Heath Robinson contraption which delivers the food trolleys also delivered Hal. The worst bit was transferring Hal from his own wheelchair to the plane seat. However he survived the ordeal and apparently even enjoyed it. So for Hal it really is all about the journey!
Other useful things to know about Stansted Airport. There are two Changing Places toilets – one airside and one at arrivals. I cannot say how happy this makes me. We didn’t try them out but knowing that we can use them if we need to is great. And the car park buses are ramped and easily accessible. We travelled with Easyjet who tell me they transport 1400 disabled people each day, and they certainly did a good job looking after us.
I am quite impressed that the Welsh have a word for accessible. This is almost as impressive as their word for microwave which is ‘poppety ping’, but I digress. We spent a week exploring South Wales in early September and found lots of places to go and things to see which are just fine for a wheelchair user.
Seaside and Beaches
One of my favourite things to do on holiday is to amble along the beach dipping a toe in the water and gazing out to sea, so it has always been a sadness that this is well nigh impossible in a wheelchair, without investing in a cumbersome all-terrain vehicle which needs to be transported to the beach, and rather detracts from the spontaneity. So it is a great joy that beach wheelchairs for hire seem to be springing up at seaside resorts all over the place, both in the UK and in Europe.
which is a pleasant laid-back sort of a seaside town with lots of parking in a big car park on the seafront. We had good crab sandwiches from a stall in the harbour and a decent pint of SA Brains at The Old Chemist Inn overlooking the bay, where staff were very welcoming to Hal. Saundersfoot also has plenty tarmac surfaces to the water’s edge along the harbourside, and an accessible sensory garden. Beach wheelchairs may be hired in advance: more information here.
Tenby is much busier, and much hillier, and parking is tricky, but don’t let that put you off because it’s a charming town with lots to explore. There’s an accessible bus from the car park in the lower town, but the car park at the south beach is probably best for wheelchair users. There’s an accessible path or boardwalk down to the sand, and quite a few mobility scooters were in evidence. Beach wheelchairs may be hired from here. If I am honest, I think there’s more that Tenby could do to encourage the purple pound, but I still liked it!
(Also that walk along the south beach is so worth it, if only for the MASSIVE dead jellyfish littering the shore – I felt much better about wimping out of swimming after seeing them).
Disability links are always popping up in my Facebook feed due to fb’s scary ability to read my mind so it knows that I am interested in all things disability and accessibility! However these two are very handy:
http://www.accomable.com lists “accessible homes, apartments, swaps and holiday rentals around the world”. I was sorry not to find anything listed under Azerbaijan, but the site is really easy to use with a nice clean layout. I might give it a go for our next holiday with Hal
http://www.disabledgo.com/ “Remember, if your planning accessible days out, DisabledGo.com provides FREE online access information for over 125,000 places to go in the UK, including hotels, restaurants, hospitals, tourist attractions and much more!Every single venue has been visited in person by one of our specialist surveyors” This is a very comprehensive review site, and they have a well organised network contacting services annually to update their information.
However there is still lots of room in the market so it’s onwards and upwards for AccessibilityReviews!