Monthly Archives: July 2017

Two out of four of this lot would be very nice Everton !


Two out of Four would do Everton !

Yes, two,out of four of these chaps would do very nicely Everton.

Next week should see us get close to securing most of Koeman’s transfer targets. He clearly sees Sigurdsson as a crucial part of the balanced squad he’s creating, but in truth the guy is more than that, he’s a key part of the plans for the best 11, I’m sure of it. He’s horribly expensive if it comes off. £40m plus add ons. It’s crazy money but I’m convinced he’s actually THE part of the jigsaw, with his excellent passing, crossing and of course dead ball expertise. It needs to happen before the first game of the season given our incredibly challenging start.

Olivier Giroud is interesting given the likely fee of £25m for a 30yr old which seems excessive but this is the fourth highest premiership goal scorer in recent years, and a forward who is great in the air, holds the ball up very well, has a range of passing and is a right nark. Just what we need and we do need at least one additional striker after losing the gobby git. Olivier is a bit slow we are told. Well he’s not a sprinter that’s for sure, but somehow he’s scored a lot of goals. Play to his strengths comes to mind.

Id still be surprised if Wenger lets him leave, particularly with Sanchez constantly rumoured to have had his head turned….apparently….tho in which direction who knows. If he arrives he’s the favoured option but Josh King offers a younger, faster, goal scoring alternative. He’s a punt of course because last years breakout season at Bournemouth followed some ordinary years but he’s got something about him and no mistake. £20m is last years £10m I guess, so he’s a bargain ! Will only happen if Giroud looks like staying at the Emirates or Koeman’s refuses to leave it until 31st Aug deadline day.

Ok I will be irritating everyone throwing in VVD when he looks certain to reward alleged tapping up with a move to a club struggling to make any proper impact on the transfer market these days. But you can dream can’t you and this guy, tho damaging his brand with the striking not playing thing, possesses the lot for me. Everton dithered and missed him at £10m a few years ago. But he’d give us a three at the back option that we know Koeman’s likes, not to mention pass and create capacity from the back. Not happening is it but even the click bait mentions are devoured like even a 1% chance of signing him should be. Sigh.

15 accessible things we learnt on a trip to New York City, Washington & Boston

Queen Mary 2

So, here’s 15 things we learnt on a Queen Mary 2 trip to NYC, Washington and Boston. Mostly it’s about accessible travel but there’s also a lot more besides in Blue Badge Blog  here at

1. The very accessible Queen Mary 2 remains the only way to cross the Atlantic ! Particularly if your fond of your powerchair or manual wheelchair for that matter, and hate the thought of what airport baggage handlers might do to your crucial bit of kit. It’s not budget of course. Far from it. But for a special “Big Hol” a surprisingly roomy accessible deck five ‘Inside Cabin’ can be yours for £1100pp and yes that’s a lot for us mere mortals but heck it includes seven days and nights of very good food, lots of it for 20 hours a day, and a variety of really decent entertainment. All on huge beautifully appointed floating fully wheelchair accessible five star hotel. Sorted.

2. Washington DC is a fabulous city but eating out there is eye wateringly expensive.

3. Visit Washington in late April ish, avoid the hordes or is herds, of American school kids in their matching T shirts and baseball caps on end of term trips, and at the same time enjoy cooler weather, way fewer lines at your fave Smithsonian Museum (there’s only 40 to choose from and they are all brilliant) oh and eat at The Pig restaurant just off Rhode Island Avenue and share meat cooked as it should be friendly locals.

4. Washrooms in the States, or toilets to us Brits, are often aweful. I have no idea how the usually quite demanding customer service fans that live across the pond endure their public Washrooms. My experience wasn’t good. Integration has arrived in the Washroom world. This means the wider-door accessible loo is found within the main loo block alongside the “normal” loos. Result : because there is no official accessible loo designation in these shared places anyone uses the accessible loo. So you are often, and I mean often, left waiting, and waiting. It just doesn’t work, give me a clean separate Radar key accessible loo any day and integration can take a back seat for once. Oh and many of these USA public washrooms are very smelly and messy and sometimes you come across people living in them which is horribly sad.

5. Use Washrooms in Smithsonian museums and posh hotels and restaurants whenever you can. See above !

6. Boston is so cool and laid back it’s spooky. You need a week at least to do it properly and it’s compact, with decent access especially the impressive Metro T where nearly all stations and yes all trains are accessible. Don’t leave Boston without having had Maine Lobster at Tia’s restaurant on Boston Harbour, or do a student guided tour of Harvard or spend a day on Boston Common and in the city centre.

7. Parts of New York City are getting a bit grubby, particularly the south Manhatten Canal Street areas. But do not miss the new 9-11 memorial which is simply stunning, respectful, emotive and  inspirational, all at the same time, as indeed it should be. And hey this is still a superb city to spend time in.

8. Central Park remains the jewel in the Big Apple’s crown. What a joy it is to wander it’s paths on a hot sunny day. But outside the park watch for those dire uneven pavements and roads where there are more pot holes than bits of flat road.

9. Do visit and stay in Brooklyn. Eat at Juniors on Flatbush Avenue, enjoy the company of people in a proper neighbourhood and take in the fabulous views of Manhatten from Brooklyn Harbourside.

!0. Do stay at the DoubleTree hotel in Boston, lovely accessible place that it is, with a great wetroom shower ! How sad am I !! Do not treat yourself to a stay at the Sheraton Hotel Brooklyn, it’s not any where near as accessible as it says and it’s hugely over-priced and nothing like the luxury brand you may expect. Do try the Mason and Rook Hotel in Washington and enjoy its leafy avenue location, it’s large accessible bedrooms.

11. Use Amtrak which is surprisingly accessible, the Red Caps are indispensable and the Acela Express to Washington and Boston from NYC is just great.

12. Whilst in the three cities consider the hop on hop off type tours. Not all are accessible but the Old Town Trolley buses in Washington and Boston have half their fleet with sturdy if temperamental wheelchair lifts and a 90 minute tour is a great way to decide which bits of the city you want to take in next.

13. Uber WAV or Uber Access taxis have arrived in many USA cities and that includes the three discussed here. Whatever your views about Uber it remains the case that unlike many cab companies they are now providing rear ramp accessed cabs, booked safely from a mobile phone App with payment made via PayPal and tho it can be a bit hit and miss in terms of getting one quickly i.e. within 15 mins, mostly it works well.

14. The mandatory outside-the-Whitehouse picture isn’t what it used to be. New Security barriers take you further back from the famous railings and frankly it’s a bit meh but you can get to bore your friends with tales of how you plonked yourself right on the spot where CJ Craig and Josh discussed President Bartlett in the West Wing, which is brilliant television and I’m sure far more Presidential than what goes on in the place right now !

15. And finally, eat ice cream from the shack under the Brooklyn Bridge ! We did and found ourselves sitting next to Evertonians, how good is that !

Cheers, Rustyman


Queen Mary 2 to the USA, part 4 : Boston really is a cool city even when it’s very hot !

Boston MA

Boston really is a cool city, even when it’s very hot !

The Amtrak Acela Express winds its way from NYC’s Penn Station to Boston South station via some lovely sea front scenery and in only just over 3.30hrs your arriving in this laid back and rather special city. The Acela Express is really accessible. It’s a low ramp or ‘bridge plate’ between platform and coach or carriage as us Brits call it. The wheelchair space is not quite as large as that on a Virgin Trains Pendolino but it’s ok and my Salsa R1 (no foot plates) fitted fine. The large accessible toilet is surprisingly easy to use, tho as the Acela gets up speed I’d advise against too much of the ‘transferring onto the loo ‘ activity ! But really, this is a very accessible train, albeit an expensive one as all seats are either in a business class standard coach or a First Class coach.

Boston MA Amtrak

The Amtrak Acela Express, a very accessible train

Where did we stay ?

DoubleTree by Hilton, Boston South Backbay area. Next to a large hospital and helpfully a fully accessible Metro T station, this was from a number of viewpoints the best holes on our USA trip, certainly the most accessible. Large bedroom with two huge beds, room to manoeuvre, air conditioning, a safe, a fridge, a large TV. And, a cracking  wet room bathroom with very large, deep, well designed shower seat, decent railed areas around shower and loo. All parts of the hotel accessible. Best vfm. Location good once you leave the rather depressing and grubby Chinatown area. Close to city centre, Boston Common, the harbour, a number of Metro T stations and links to the North Station and overland services. Mid range cost.

Boston MA

The Boston DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, superb access.

What did we see and do ?

Five days isn’t really enough to see all that Boston has to offer but it does give you a sense of the place, its vibe, it’s laid back view of life and just how gorgeous this part of the USA is to live in and enjoy. We loved the accessible Old Town trolley bus tour which we’d seen and used before in Washington. About one in two buses have the sturdy if temperamental wide wheelchair side or rear lift. The drivers commentary is always interesting, informative and sometimes very funny ! It’s an expensive 90 mins but worth every cent.

The ‘free’ additional 45m tour of Boston Harbour not so much. It wasn’t even 45 mins, the commentary is tired and the wheelchair access very tough and I can say this having nearly tipped my 110kg plus moi powerchair right over backwards trying to board on a strange humpback ramp ! I didn’t end up in the harbour thanks to a couple of burly sailors but it wasn’t fun.

Try the Chart House restaurant on the harbour. The prime rib and seafood is superb. The building is the second oldest in the city and you are treated to a scroll with the Declaration of Independence and the constitution so you understand a little about the Tea Party history ! Pricey but well worth the treat. We wandered into the Fannueil and Quincy Market areas which look very good in the sunshine and are a bit more accessible than Covent Gardens’ cobbles !

Boston MA

Take the accessible Boston Old Town Trolley Bus, give the ship a miss!!

Whatever you do don’t miss the chance to see Harvard and take the amazingly cheap $24 for two people guided tour ! Our guide was ‘Liz’ a fourth year student taking Molecular Biology ! It’s 60 minutes of insight, corny jokes, Q&A and as Liz put it, beautiful buildings mixed with ugly horrors from the 60’s. The Russell House Tavern does a very decent lunch in its air conditioned accessible basement with a small number of gluten free options and at a reasonable cost.

Salem in 94f heat ! We got the overland train to this place of witches and gallows and aweful pavements ! It was fun and some lovely walks and harbourside eats. But try to do it when it’s cooler as there’s not a lot of shade in this place except the graveyards which were not that accessible and a bit spooky !

Boston Common in the sunshine is gorgeous and you can easily spend a day in the area, and arrive back at the hotel totally shattered. See the bronze ducks and the quaint lake boats paddled cycle style by very fit people ! The Boston gardens are lovely, the massive Bunker Hill back into the city centre not so much !

The Boston Public Market near the Common is the best in the city. We wound up back at the harbour, at a restaurant called “Tia’s” alongside the ship shaped Marriott Hotel. Wow. It’s sensational. We had the lobster of course, with background commentary by our brilliant server who, exceptionally due to the one handed nightmare in prospect otherwise, expertly extracted all the meat from my two x 1lb Maine Lobsters ! Gluten free options there were, and my wife’s lobster roll was delicious. All for less than $65 which trust me really is a bargain ! On the way back to the Doubletree there was even a chance for a picture at Dorothy’s house from the Wizard of Oz, my wife’s fave film and after ten miles in 94f that air conditioning was very welcome !

Boston MA

Don’t miss a guided tour of Harvard !

Boston MA

Boston Common and surrounding area, a great day out

Boston MA

Oh that Maine Lobster !

What’s it like to get around ?

Quite easy actually. It’s a relatively compact city for walking, tho there are some wicked hills ! Buses are accessible and cheap. The Metro or the T as it’s known is nearly all accessible but watch out for the odd station with higher than usual ‘gap’ between platform and train. The trolley bus tour really does give you a great plan as to where to walk to and when. The overland train services from North and the larger South stations are good and the Red Caps friendly, tho the expected $3-$5 ‘tip’ per bag adds up during the weeks away ! However, as in Washington and NYC don’t begrudge the Red Caps this tip or fee as we called it, it’s a great service for anyone less mobile and you actually get to,the right platform at the right time.

Boston MA

Getting around Boston is surprisingly easy……

So that’s Boston. A brilliant city. Lovely people. Very accessible and the food, well did I mention the lobster and the prime rib !

If you’d like to know a bit more about the disability access we came across in Boston don’t hesitate to ask, just lob me an email on

Cheers, Rustyman

Queen Mary 2 to the USA part 3 : It’s New York City, Manhatten and Brooklyn !!

New York City

New York City, shiny, bold and always busy !

We have been to New York City a few times and love it. This trip, part of two weeks that saw us in Washington and Boston for the first time, was all about lower Manhatten, the new 9-11 memorial, a gorgeous hot sunny day in Central Park and several days spent discovering Brooklyn !

Where did we stay ?

The Holiday Inn Financial District and the Sheraton Brooklyn. Both hotels were costly disappointments, particularly the aweful Sheraton. The Holiday Inn was cramped, a poorly equipped wet room, no room to manoeuvre the wheelchair between two large and I have to say comfy beds, with a wardrobe too small to take many clothes and building site for a location…..tho once away from the immediate hotel area you are literally right on top of the superb Freedom Tower, the 9-11 memorial and Westfields amazing whole-food shopping centre alongside the breathtaking new and fully accessible transport hub.

The Sheraton Brooklyn is just such bad value it’s not true. It cost a staggering £700 for two nights. Was meant as a bit of luxury at the end of a very special holiday. The “accessible” bedroom is poor. The wet room dire. It’s way too small and there’s no room to turn a powerchair properly, no fixed shower seat or mobile shower chair. To use the loo some will have to leave the door open into the bedroom and there is no side transfer onto the loo. I had to use two child mattresses and a square Ottoman as ‘steps’ to crawl onto the floor to get into the shower, it was that poor. The staff were then decent enough to admit that the room shouldn’t be booked by disabled people unless they can walk from their wheelchair !! Ok it was an expensive mistake but don’t be kidded by this example of a supposed upscale brand, there are a lot of better more genuinely accessible hotels in the Big Apple.

New York City

The Holiday Inn Financial District, location good, poor vfm.

New York City

The Sheraton Brooklyn, terrible accessible room, expensive disappointment

What did we see and do ?

The new 9-11 memorial is just stunning. It’s all accessible. It’s moving, inspiring, wonderfully well designed and a credit to the city. A dignified and respectful way to honor those murdered on that terrible day. Pay $24 each for 60 minute tour, it’s amazing value, the insights alone add hugely to your understanding of what happened to the Twin Towers and how this great city stepped up and proudly fought back. The two memorial ‘pools’ outside are also very moving, Touch a name etched around the steel sides of the pools and keep those memories alive. Freedom Tower itself is impressive, the ride up the super fast lift a bit different ! The views amazing and the lunch at the top of the world, affordable and tasty. It’s all accessible.

New York City

The new 9-11 memorial museum is superb

We spent a fabulous day in Central Park. The gorgeous weather helped but this is a fascinating space and it’s easy to see why New Yorkers jealously protect its borders. We decided to do something a little different and did a long walk to 86th Street and the thought provoking Guggenheim museum of modern art. It’s surprisingly pricey to get in, about $50 for two. The circular ramped style design of the exhibits is unusual and accessible tho quite a push for any wheelchair user without an engine under their bum ! The art is, well, it’s all in the eye of the beholder as they say and I made it up to the very top floor to look quizzically at the famous Jackson Pollack……don’t ask me to critique it !

New York Cuty

The Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art, give it a chance !

How did we get around ?

In truth, we walked, a lot. Easy for me in the powerchair tho in some areas the lack of dropped kerbs and terrible state of the sidewalks made life tough, particularly the Canal Street area. We did try the stunning new transport hub at the World Trade Centre and experienced a NYC Subway train for the first time – it was an adventure, just about wheelchair friendly, but few stations can be used and frankly it remains a risky if lively way to get around the city. The buses are all accessible which is useful. But walking and navigating your way around the famous NYC grid system is interesting, not too difficult and you quickly find yourself caught up in the frenetic lifestyle ! We did use the new Uber wheelchair accessible cabs via their App. It was hit and miss. Not overly expensive and mostly reliable but some long waits. The rear access ramps were great, the drivers knew their stuff and honestly we’d use Uber again whilst trying to forget about the many criticisms of them as a company, which is hypocritical but frankly this accessible service can be a life saver.

New York City

It’s hard to grow tired of New York City

How was Brooklyn ?

Very different ! Felt like a real neighbourhood. Lots of side pavements and narrow ones towards the river. Local shops and local people, it had something about it that was really not Manhatten. I bravely had my hair cut in a Latino barbers, big cutthroat razers, loud chatter, and a very good no3 !! Everywhere we went we got a friendly welcome. Juniors restaurant off Flatbush Avenue served up huge tasty meals at reasonable prices. The pancakes for breakfast was a Slimming Workd disaster, piled high and oh that Maple Syrup ! The walk down the harbour side is well worth the effort, we came across a film crew putting together some scenes from Sesame Street!

The view of Manhatten is just sensational from Brooklyn. Overall even just a couple of days allowed us to feel comfortable in this cosmopolitan place and we jealously looked on as casual diners cooked their steaks in a family BBQ area with quite simply a view to kill for !

New York City

Brooklyn, well worth a visit

Some top tips for visiting NYC :

Dont stay at the hotels we did !

Visit the new 9-11 memorial museum and do wander around Central Park.

Give the subway a miss until more stations are made step-free.

Try Brooklyn, it’s really worth the visit and it’s people are friendly !

Stay midtown and walk the city in blocks, not too many each day, the planning pays off.

Wheelchair users watch out for aweful sidewalks and in some places disappearing drop kerbs.

Cheers, Rustyman, and don’t hesitate to email me on if you’d like any other feedback on our trip to the States.

Queen Mary 2 to the USA, Part 2 : ‘Washington DC, what a classy and accessible city’ !

Washington DC

Washington DC, what a classy & accessible city  !

Washington DC, it really is a classy city and incredibly accessible. It’s dynamic, hugely expensive, very busy, but full of lush parkland, amazing buildings and has the National Mall and the 40 or so museums that together make up the “Smithsonian”. Truth is Washington surprised and delighted us in equal measure.

How did we get there ?

By Amtraks “Acela Express” from Penn Station in midtown New York City. Amtrak’s trains, particularly this express variant, are very accessible, with low easy board ramps or ‘bridge plates’ and a wheelchair space in every non restaurant carriage or ‘car’ as they are often called. The accessible loo is huge by UK rail standards. The doors tho are manually operated and sometimes very tough for a power chair user with one arm ! But my salsa R1 had loads of room to manoeuvre and the rails etc were helpful. Here’s a tip tho….don’t go for a wee or more when the train is at top speed and rattling over tracks like a roller coaster. It can be scary and a little unstable ! Amtrak was great throughout our trip, the Red Cap service was a must, even with the high cost of tipping at around $3-$5 a bag. The Acela Express is a business and first class only train and it’s a bit pricey to be honest at around $150 for a single between Washington and NYC  but these prices vary and there may be bargains to be had at low season rates.

Where did we stay ?

Mason & Rook on the gorgeous Rhode Island Avenue. About a 15 minute walk from the fully accessible DuPont Circle Metro station. A lovely and slightly boutique type of hotel. The accessible room was big, really comfortable, and had a large wet room bathroom with limited rails around the shower and loo areas and no fixed shower seating. The bed was massive and very high. The air con worked well ! Access was good around the hotel and the staff, especially Reggie the brilliant concierge, very welcoming. Watch out for the slightly sly addition of a “hotel fee” at the end of your stay, $20 a day meant to cover the ‘free’ coffee and glass of wine pre dinner period each night.

But we loved this hotel, the staff were great and the location really good amongst the tree lined avenues. Local restaurants were not that plentiful to be honest but  “The Pig” was sensational tho you really have to love pork ! It was good for gluten free options and again the servers here were amazingly friendly and knowledgble about the menu.

Mason & Rook is not a budget hotel. But it’s priced at a level comparable to somewhere like a Staybridge Suites, or Hampton by Hilton.

What did we see and do ?

We had five full days, needed two weeks, at least ! We used Day 1 on a brilliant 90 minute trolley bus tour. Wheelchair accessible via a lift system that could be temperamental and was only on every other….ish….trolley. But the driver commentary was superb and it’s a great way to get your bearings albeit at around $35 each. We spent the afternoon in a surprising way, exploring the incredible “US Postal Service” museum, part of the Smithsonian and right next to the exciting and accessible Union Station.

Now, don’t laugh. But this postal museum is an absolute best kept secret kind of thing. The building is stunning. It’s all accessible. The museum is fascinating with a series of displays that honestly are really interesting and different. But right up there in the ‘wow’ category is the exhibit called “Post a secret” which is where people from all over America, indeed the world, have written secrets about their life on a postcard and sent it to an address in the States. It’s quite dark to be honest, there are heart breaking messages of despair that shake you. Then uplifting messages that shine a light on family life in a positive way and often highlight courage in the face of adversity. Honestly, you will spend an hour just here, slowly reading the exhibits cards picked from over a million sent…..and drag yourself away, moved, a bit disturbed, but caught up in the moment and buoyed up, all at the same time ! Oh and the toilets or restrooms are lovely, and didn’t prepare me at all for the horrors of restroom hell which I encountered throughout our trip – see the end of this missive !

Washington DC

Macon & Rook, a lovely hotel close to the very accessible Metro.

Washington DC

Post a secret postcard, truly a memorable exhibition.

The highlight of our trip to Washington was a visit to the Supreme Court. The building is magnificent. It’s all accessible. We got lucky and arrived when the court wasn’t sitting so we’re able to attend the free lecture in the court room itself. Given by a Court Intern, the lecture lasts around 40 mins and takes you thru this cherished part of the American legal system and Constitution. You get the chance to mark questions and you learn a lot in a short time. Fascinating and thought provoking. The Court is full of large format pictures of the men and women who shaped justice in the USA for hundreds of years. There is an interesting video presentation to watch and a number of exhibits that add detail to the story of how the court ended up in its magnificent home. The cafe is a delight by the way and yes the loo’s are lovely !

We visited the Air and Space museum which many had recommended but frankly found it a bit underwhelming and overcrowded in early June by literally thousands of USA school kids on end of term tours. The McDonalds on site is the only eatery and it is one of the largest in the world ! The IMAX presentations are interesting but don’t quite have the wow factor.

The Holocaust Museum is as you would expect, both daunting and provocative and of course very moving. Set in a simple red brick and concrete five stores building it takes a long time to view. You can take an ID Card on entry and it’s not till you get in the main museum area that you fully realize your carrying a card that describes the life, and death, of someone murdered by the Nazis during WW2. The museum is stunning in different ways and you really need to visit it to,understand why. It’s fully accessible.

We also visited the Capitol, enjoyed seeing the Senate floor from a loft viewing position and the architecture here is wonderful. The long marbled floor tunnel to the Library of Congress is I guess worth the walk. The library has some riveting exhibits but frankly when you allow hundreds and hundreds of school kids in all at once you do adversely impact everyone else’s experience. Go off season if you want to really see the Library properly. We spent half a day at Arlington Cemetery and it was worth the time.

Washington DC

ID that makes you think and a message for all to read.

Washington DC

The trolley bus really is accessible, and the Arlington Cemetery extension is a great way to see this special place.

The National Mall needs little introduction. It’s a jewel in Washington’s crown, amidst a few stunning jewels to be honest. We saw Mr Lincoln and yes you can get up the monument in a slightly shaky lift to within touching distance of the great man. We Touched the impressive Vietnam memorial wall. Wandered thru stunning parkland on our way up the mall and then somehow my wife managed seventeen more blocks to the White House in 92f !  I of course navigated all this in my power chair with ease ! The White House photo op was done but frankly it’s all a bit sterile, thanks mainly to the understandable but obtrusive security measures. But I did get to see where CJ Craig and Josh from my fave tv show ever, the West Wing, appeared out of the Oval Office and onto Pennsylvania Avenue !

What was the food like ?

Well, it’s the most expensive city to eat in we’ve ever been too. Surprisingly  the centre of the city is not over blessed with restaurants. We had a gorgeous meal at ‘701’ right on Pennsylvania Avenue and broke records for the most expensive, but amazing, steak meal at ‘Ruth Chris’ on 9th Avenue, both fully accessible. But the ‘Pig’ restaurant near the hotel really was rather good too.

How was Getting around the city ?

The answer is “surprisingly easy”. Firstly the Metro is fully accessible and less busy than most except for the really peak times of 1700-1830 and the morning rush hour which seemed to be 0730-0900. My salsa R1 powerchair coped well with gap between the platform and the Metro trains, most of which were new, with live digital route signs onboard and station announcements. There is plenty of space and a blue badge style spot marked out on the floor for wheelchair users. It really was a joy to use. Buses are all accessible too tho we didn’t try this. Oh and the new UBER WAV (rear wheelchair ramped) taxi service worked well for us on the few times we used it. Note you need the Uber App and that means switching on roaming on your mobile and, it’s expensive ! Unlike the Uber fare which was very reasonable.

Our five key tips about Washington DC :

1. Go in April, its cooler and the cherry blossoms are out (check first !) and there are a lot fewer school tours !

2. Staying just outside the centre works well providing your near an accessible Metro station.

3. Visit the Supreme Court and the Postal Museum, you won’t be disappointed.

4. Eating out is very, very, expensive. Eat dinner away from the centre.

5. USA Restrooms are not great, integrated wider door wheelchair loos are not designated just for those who can’t use the narrower loos, which means you often end up waiting, and waiting, for the ‘big loo’ to become available. I found the male restrooms in many public places to be really messy, crowded, not always clean and often home to some without a home which was sad but on occasions a bit intimidating. Very surprising this, but in truth I can’t believe how aweful some of the restroom experiences were and recommend trying to time your ‘need to go now’ moment to when your in a posh Smithsonian with a better class of restroom !!

So, loved Washington DC, want to go back soon, and if there’s anything I can share about our trip there please shout out and email me on

Next up will be reviews of our visits to New York City (Manhatten and Brooklyn) and Boston.

Cheers, Mark, Rustyman

Wayne Rooney : He’s back, now it gets interesting !

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney : He’s back, now it gets interesting !

Wayne Rooney. I well remember him leaving. I heard confirmation on Radio Merseyside, rang my mate John and had a blazing row. I was disappointed but already wondering who we could buy with the money, particularly as I was of the view that the four decent quality players it might produce would, overall, be of more value to a squad badly in need of a lift. John, as ever a much more scholarly Bluenose, vented his spleen and proceeded to devastate my argument with facts and figures yes, but more emotionally shouted, most unlike him, down the phone about the loss of a decade of goals, huge world class potential and the simple fact that we’d very easily said goodbye to a player who would light up the league for a long long time.

He was right of course, well about the potential and the lighting up thing. Later that night the other key partner in our blue triangle, Allen, told me I’d hadn’t a clue about Rooney and that he would lead England and we would be a laughing stock for letting him go. Somehow my further, and I thought rational argument, about how do you stop him ? fell on deaf ears. The emotion of the apparent betrayal from a lifelong blue was way too raw, and remained so for a long time.

It hurts that I can’t call up my two closest friends in the world to apologise for being very practical and dull, and celebrate the return of a hero. Both have passed away, I miss them every day, both would have been made up to see Wayne back and without doubt John would have showered me with stats about what even a now 31 year old could bring to our exciting new project.

If my mates and even I can forgive and forget, then any blue can. Sorry, but it’s time to be practical. Rooney’s return makes a great deal of sense. One disappointing season at Utd, part of two years worth of a poor Utd squad and a poor bit of management from two guys who in truth didn’t get much of a chance at Old Trafford, well that doesn’t make Rooney poor.

He will improve the squad, significantly. He will offer hugely valuable experience,  creative options and Koeman’s much required ‘productivity’. He will score a lot more goals than in his last two years at Utd. Not that difficult I accept and not anything like the moron we’ve just let go. But it’s clear Korean expects goals to be shared around the squad, not just from one very clever but horribly disrespectful player.  Rooney will help younger players along. He will add much to the clubs already booming public relations and increase our profile abroad. He’s still a star. He has to behave like the consummate professionals we love to have at our great club. He will work hard I know. He loves us, of that I’m sure and it shines out in every smile just what it means to him and his family that he’s back home.

Wayne Rooney

Love this picture……

So, Rooney is back and it’s time to put aside any doubts. Accept it for what it is. A smart move, hopefully, but just part of what feels like a genuine revolution in which, suddenly, every day is about Everton and quality and a new stadium and, well, a lot more besides. Rooney is back but so are Everton. It really is happening and now all that’s needed is to translate all this excitement to a dawn that isn’t false. I’m with the project and so should all blues be. It’s about time I eased up on the practical stuff and just let the emotion take over and enjoy the ride !

Cheers, Rustyman

Queen Mary 2 and 3 big USA East Coast cities. Part 1 “It’s a crossing NOT a cruise ok”


Crossing the pond

Crossing the pond to America

It’s a crossing NOT a cruise ! Well trust me, whatever the most devoted Cunard customers want to call it, a journey to New York City and the East of the USA onboard the Queen Mary 2 really is the only way to cross the Atlantic !

It's a crossing not a cruise, ok

The only way to cross the Atlantic with your powerchair !

My wife and I travelled to the land of Donald Trump (how the heck did that happen America ?) in late May 2017 and then did the return journey a couple of weeks later (see my accessible stories from Washington, New York & Boston in future blogs) and here’s how a Salsa Powerchair and excited user navigated the trip.

So, how accessible is the Queen Mary 2 ?

The answer is, “very”. From a wheelchair users perspective the ship is an accessible dream. Embarkation at Southampton’s impressive Ocean Terminal is smooth tho the ramps that take you into the ship can be a little steep and there are a couple of “high ridge steel joins” that need a bit of careful negotiation, but it’s ok and here’s a tip for any with mobility impairments registered as such with Cunard. Arrive 90 mins ahead of the official boarding time and you may get on board earlier than your designated time and always accept Cunard offer of someone to help you board.

The accessible cabins or “Stateroom” as Cunard call it rather poshly are very decent. This trip we decided that a window or balcony cabin was a waste of money when for the most part what you see, is, well, sea ! We booked accessible Stateroom 5130 mid ships on deck 5 and were very impressed with the space. The images below show you an obviously tight ish wet room bathroom but I could manage in a salsa rear wheel powerchair which has no foot plates. Having said that the fixed shower seat is not very ‘deep’ but the rail system is good and you have just enough turning space. The bed is a high one but very large. No overhead hoist type system I’m afraid.

Accessible cabins on the QM2 make the crossing work for wheelchair users

The limited number of accessible cabins are pretty good.

Around this magnificent classic Liner wheelchair access, and that for anyone with a mobility impairment, is good. But this is a huge ship and in a manual wheelchair getting from one end of the QM2 to the other is a big push. This time in the powerchair it was very easy and we both appreciated the engine under my bum ! All restaurants are accessible of course and crucially the lifts are relatively plentiful and mostly you can get on a lift with only short wait times.

The spa is lovely and spookily there is a superb hoist into the gorgeous therapy pool which is warm, full of jets and bubble making kit, and frankly a bit fierce ! Sunbed type loungers can be accessible but they are popular! The steam rooms and showers don’t work for most wheelchair users but the changing rooms have an accessible shower and loo. Not bad in an area we expected to be inaccessible. You can get a six day pass to the Spa pool and shower areas etc for a vfm $104 pp but beware, the long list of well respected therapy treatments are honestly just for the rich, some very short treatments can set you back $600 but a superb shoulder and back PHYSIO massage and laser treatment costs you $240 delivered by a capable guy called “Dragan” but frankly even tho it worked wonders for my dodgey shoulder it was truly a one off !

Crossing the Atlantic can be accessible

Crossing the Atlantic can be accessible

The rest of the pools have mixed access with one, under the glass dome, having a hoist system, but it’s so small it’s hardly worth the bother. The wonderful theatre is wheelchair accessible but places are limited and you get used to rocking up 25 mins before the performance starts to secure the accessible seating areas. The View of the stage is great.

Entertainment on both our crossings was hugely impressive. Food in the Britannia Restaurant was, to be honest, good but not outstanding. Very small portions at times are a surprise but there are standout meals like the lobster, chateaubriand, lamb and some decent veg and gluten free alternatives but again, choice in those areas wasn’t as good as we’ve seen before. The food in the refurbished Kings Court buffet is amazingly good and the speciality nights they run there, for an extra $17.50pp, are superb. Try the “bamboo” night, it’s very different !!

Sadly the ship has become a bit of an “upselling” zone. There are a lot of extras you can pay for. Wifi is eye wateringly expensive. The official photos taken throughout the crossing are similarly expensive. Drinks all carry a 15% service charge. We didn’t try the $50pp alternative dining at the Verandah but heard it was excellent. The poker machines in the small casino are fun but greedy ! None of this should distract from the experience of travelling on the QM2 though, from the wonderful deck 7 wraparound old style wooden deck to the entertainment to the chance to meet a lot of interesting people and relax in a ship that copes smoothly with even rough waves, the QM2 is a great way to cross the Atlantic.

What will it set you back ?

Well, it isn’t a budget option. An inside accessible cabin on decks 4 or 5 will cost £1100 per person for a 7 night trip. Not exactly Easyjet of course and you can then add some extras into that or not, depending on your use of wifi, love of special photos and spa treatments.

Overall for most this tends to be a special one off treat, often part of a holiday of a lifetime type experience. But it is more accessible than you might think in more ways than one, so well worth considering. The QM2 is the last Liner to regularly ply the Atlantic, try it if you can and don’t  be afraid to tackle the trip from a wheelchair or mobility scooter or as someone with a mobility impairment. Equally I think customers with sight or hearing impairments will find the ship welcoming if not exactly state of the art in terms of accessibility.

Thinking of sailing on board the QM2 ? If you want to know more about our experience, particularly as powerchair user, email me on

Cheers, Mark