STILETTO – a high pointed HEEL on a woman’s shoe or a small dagger.
WHEELS – a medieval instrument of torture or a vehicle for personal mobility.
We were attending a wedding - EaZyD's sister, Betty - at a picturesque church in the Cotswolds with a reception at the adjoining castle. We had to find a hotel close by for two nights before transferring to the castle for two nights. We had enough experience to know that UK hotels are truly abysmal at providing wheelchair facilities, unless you want to stay at the equivalent of a motorway lodge, which we did not. My pain racked, paralysed body demands luxury, room service and a great restaurant as the de minimus for travel. My accompanying equipment and luggage demand space.
Having rung over fifty hotels in an ever widening circle around our geographical location, I finally found a newly opened hotel, Whatley Manor, that seemed to have what we needed – access to a room, a walk [roll] in shower with toilet and six inches of clearance under the bed for the legs of my hoist. Yes, that is it – not too demanding is it? No, no baths, no big ugly grab rails, no massive door entrances, no special signs, spaces or places. The only drawback was that it was 72 miles away from our required location. ‘All main roads, you can do it in fifty minutes,’ they said. We booked it. This at least got us 130 miles closer than travelling from London.
We travelled up to Whatley Manor in an afternoon going into evening. It was all very new looking with the wheelchair users nightmare of cobblestones as a feature. Our room was on the second floor and was fine – shower small but manageable, lift good. We had a nice meal in an OK restaurant. All was well, phew! Next day, we set off for the wedding rehearsal allowing an hour and fifteen minutes for travel, way more than the ‘fifty minutes, an hour, tops,’ that we were advised of.
For TWO hours, we drove miles on tiny roads in volumes of traffic, calling in our progress on a ten minute basis after the first hour. We got to the rehearsal just as it ended. Latecomers are not very popular at wedding rehearsals! 'Why didn't you leave earlier?' said one wit.
I tried not to sound too furiously irritated as I pointed out the usual total lack of disabled loos within – oh – 72 miles and the consequent strain on my bladder control at not having any access to said facility. Everyone else was staying five minutes away of course. We stayed for a quick meal and commenced the long drive back in the pitch black of the evening.