Monthly Archives: August 2017

To everyone in the travel industry : read this now !!

Travel Industry

To everyone in the travel industry, this will explain a lot……

‘To everyone in the travel industry, read this now’, feels like a bit of a dramatic command, a bit OTT, a bit threatening even? Well as titles go it is in fact one of the most important I’ve penned in a long while. Every now and then you read something that makes you sit up and shout “yes !! Here’s someone who gets it, who understands what I’ve been saying for, well, ages and ages…..”

Here is someone whose been there, made, then printed, then sold the bloomin T shirt and TOTALLY gets why for disabled people travel is both a joy but sadly, can also be a nightmare of anxiety and panic…..yes panic.


Travel Agents, hotel staff, airline booking folk, entertainment venues, public buildings, concert arena’s etc etc etc. Read here why travel for many disabled people is still such a nerve wracking, anxious and honestly, quite scary thing. It shouldn’t be like this in 2017 but here’s the thing, IT STILL IS !!

Carrie Ann talks of being a planner, a list person, someone who is actually a hugely experienced traveler so it should all be a worry-free smooth and relaxed experience, yes ? Well no, accessible travel should be like that but all too often very avoidable mistakes and carelessness mix with mis-information and lack of knowledge, to produce a ruined travel experience and it’s knowing that can, and still does, happen, that is a cause of such disappointing stress. Planning accessible travel is in my experience not the fun thing it is for many when organizing their holiday.

Consider this, we have just (after a long set of email exchanges) recently had a refund off one of the alleged “best” quality hotel chains in the world. Why ? Because after exhaustive personal checks by our superb agent, we arrived to find my standard powerchair couldn’t get in the ‘accessible wet room’ properly. I couldn’t use the loo and shut the door, couldn’t turn the chair, couldn’t shower as there wasn’t a safe shower seat. Oh and the room was crammed with furniture and too small, despite our having explained what type of accessible room we needed. When faced with us quickly reappearing back at the reception desk the senior member of staff on the desk told us, twice, that “our accessible wet room bedrooms are really meant for disabled people who can get out of their chairs and walk…..” This in a hotel charging £700 for two nights in a suburb of one of the greatest cities on earth.

Just to further back up Carrie Ann’s wonderful honesty. My wife and I planned our honeymoon with meticulous detail. The villa in Portugal was, we were assured, repeatedly, “very private”. When we got there the pool was in the front garden next to a road ! Our airline, or rather the airport baggage handlers smashed one wheel up of my then specialist one-arm use wheelchair by we believe dropping it off the baggage conveyor. But they then placed it in the hold for us to find at Faro airport where a hugely upset aircraft captain personally explained to us how our honeymoon was off to a terrible start.

Is it any wonder Carrie Ann’s amazingly accurate description of the anxiety you can feel when traveling as a disabled person will chime with many many readers of Disability Horizons, her new website and hopefully this very new and not so shiny blog platform.

BUT……and this is such an important BUT……just like anyone, when things go as you pay for them to go, when agents get it right and go the extra mile to ensure all is right, when hotel and airline staff do something lovely and thoughtful to ease your journey and overcome a problem, when you see the sights that everyone else can see and experience that sunset, that amazing view, meal, or architecture that takes your breath away – well the joy is just the same, the smile exactly as it is for anyone, and all the planning and yes even the anxiety, is worth it for the excitement of traveling to new places and sharing that with those you love.

So please, to all those in the travel industry, read this description of how it can be for some of your customers, why so many of us identify at least in part with Carrie Ann’s searingly honest explanation of just how daunting travel can be for those who really need you to be spot on with your information, your research, your advice, your, well, everything actually. Why ? because the more you get it right, the less some of us will have to feel anxious or close to panic as we plan what should be a fun filled bit of travel to far flung places, or even just a local rail journey !

Thanks Carrie Ann, when you wrote this piece you spoke for so many who have experienced those same  feelings of anxiety and speaking up like this will help a lot of people face the challenges and not avoid travel, whilst hopefully also understanding that there’s lots you can do to minimize the worry and just focus on the joy of travel !

Cheers, Mark,


Disability and travel: face your fears head on


Anyone, preferably two, will do, plus a CB and a Winger !

Anyone, preferably two, will do

Anyone, preferably two, will do

Anyone, preferably two will do, says the headline but to be honest the next four days of the summer transfer window will define Everton’s season, not the business done before.  Frankly I can’t see how it’s just two new arrivals we need when clearly we are at least four or five players short of a squad capable of coping with the demands of competing in four competitions.

There was some real rubbish spouted on social media after our pathetic capitulation to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The Positivity Police were out in force again, defying reality and refusing to face an uncomfortable truth. Namely, that despite some clearly decent arrivals, we’ve let the best striker in the country or close to,it, depart for Utd with, it seems, not a clue how to replace his stunning 25 goals a season. It’s been two months since Rom left and now we seem to be in panic mode trying to replace him, mainly because Plan A, find the goals from midfield, already looks doomed.

According to some we lost at Chelsea because we were tired, which reflects a tough week but is just such a scary thought given we face many similar weeks between now and Christmas.  Yes Chelsea are quite good. Yes we’ve had a hard week. But it feels like we arrived at the Bridge in exactly that frame of mind, and Koemans setup meant we invited waves of pressure which surprisingly only produced two goals.

This was a desperately poor performance from an Everton squad which has to cope better with injuries. But there are horrible gaps in this squad and yes that’s even with a lot of money spent. There is no pace, at all. We have little width and now the manager has fallen out with Mirallas. We need a left sided centre back who can somehow also be a cracking left back. And yes we need a no9 who can at least manage 15 or so goals a season.

Me ? I think we must have a Vardy type player who can get wide right and play up top if needed, off a strong centre forward who can actually hold the ball up. We just don’t have enough until Christmas and the return of Seamus, Bolassie and either Ross himself or if he’s sold, his replacement, will make a big difference. But by then the damage may have been done.

It honestly isn’t being negative to call it as you see it. Things are not great. The hype has been magnificent but that’s what it is, hype. We’ve not really played well yet.

Rooney looks clever and hard working and has goals in him alongside a superb commitment to his favourite club. Gylfi is well over priced but a class act when he gets fit. Keane and Pickford very sound buys. Sandro ? I’m unsure about but let’s give him the time he deserves. Klassen the same. And then there’s the enigma that’s Ross B. I don’t think he wants to leave but he got fed up being slated in public by his manager and in truth his in and out form didn’t help his case. However, am I the only one thinking he might yet turn things round if he stays ?

But if he’s sold then that money, and a lot, lot, more must be re invested by 23:00 on 31st August because we honestly will not handle what’s to come without four or five quality arrivals.

Cheers, Rustyman


Uber Access ? If your a wheelchair user, seriously, what’s not to like ?

Uber Access

Uber Access , what’s not to like ?

I first tried Uber Access or Uber WAV as it called in the States during trips to New York City, & Washington DC. It was a bit mixed to be honest. Loved the concept. Once I got the Uber App sorted in a foreign country I was away, booking cabs with aplomb and loving the great ramped access, the always interesting and friendly drivers and, well, the sheer “ease and normality” of it all.

I was aware that UBER WAV as it started out being called was up and running in London. So having tried in the USA it seemed rude not to give it a go in Blighty !!

Well I have and it is fantastic. High praise I know but that’s how it makes me feel. There are now more UBER ACCESS cabs (new name) on their system and wait times are coming down from the start when it was 45 minutes to a much more reasonable 15-20 mins, tho like anyone else, try getting an Uber Access in a thunderstorm at rush hour and your likely to face a bit of a wait.

Its just, so darned easy….. there you are in central London or I think farther out these days, and you call up the Uber App, enter the location you want to go to, select Uber Access from the options, confirm you really do want the accessible vehicle with ramp, and off it goes searching for your ride. You must have an Uber Account of course, which in turn means you pay by PayPal or a registered credit card. It’s safe, it’s easy, it’s quick.

Uber have a very edgy rep dont they. They are hated by many black cab drivers in London and elsewhere I suspect. But Uber seems to be cheaper and I’d have more sympathy with the black cab community if they had embraced accessibility with enthusiasm, instead of being forced into it by Ken Livingstones legislation etc. Even then, a side entry ramp on a black cab can be a precarious thing and definitely not great for a power chair user. The angle is often dangerously, impossibly, steep from cab to pavement. Frankly I’ve rarely been made to feel welcome in a London cab and unlike Uber who will not charge you whilst you are being secured in the cab, the meter can run from when a black cab stops to pick you up, if they do stop ofcourse, which is far from guaranteed. Not so Uber whose drivers MUST accept your app booking.

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on the black cab fraternity. I have got a certain accessible E7 black cab in Hinckley Leicestershire and been treated like a king. But most places, particularly London, not so much.

In London the Uber drivers I’ve met have all been really good. Friendly, chatty, interesting and clearly knowledgable as to the Chair restraint systems. I’ve never felt rushed. Always felt safe. And so far never had to wait beyond 30 mins even in rush hour, mostly I’ve been picked up in 15/20 mins. The Uber Access drivers tell me they don’t get stick from the Black Cab community, it’s as if there is a tacit acknowledgement that Uber Access has stepped up and met a desperate need to provide choice for disabled people, at fair prices which are the same as Uber X and the company incentivise drivers to become Access drivers, and to get the accessible cars with rear ramps, like a Berlingo or Horizon.

Uber Access is spreading across the UK ! See their website for details but hopefully it’s on its way to most large cities and lots more places where the location may not be that large but the need remains the same.

So, Uber Access, what’s not to like ? Actually it’s all good as far as I’m concerned, a power chair user who now can access more Underground stations than ever before, the red buses, and even cabs using an App. That has to be all about “choice” as this impressive young guy from Whiz Kids says in a video review of Uber WAV, now Uber Access. Just scroll to the bottom of the website piece from a third party and there’s the vid.

Cheers, Rustyman

The Everton supporters Positivity Police are back

Yep, the Everton Positivity Police are well and truly back after the second leg against Rubonberok.

The PP operate on Twitter mainly but do of course appear on Facebook and a fair few of most popular Everton supporter sites. Their objective is to hunt out any, and I mean any, comments about the team (and occasionally the Club) that are anything less than what is considered “100% positive”. It really doesn’t matter how balanced a view is being taken, how considered the opinion, and however keen / fanatical / committed / loyal the source of the view. If it’s not wholly “positive” your immediately labelled a glass half empty type rather than the half or nearly full variety of blue.

Ive had enough of this tosh. Watching the game on ITV 4 and desperately trying to avoid the inane commentary of Sam what’s his name and Andy Townsend, I did what I usually do whilst watching a live game on the telly. I wandered onto my Twitter feed which is pretty much nearly all blues, and did what us social media managers like to call “engagement” or you will also recognise as “tweet”, “chat” “argue” “moan” “Cheer” “debate” and “shout at the Tv and iPad Pro, all at the same time.

I joined what I have to say felt like a massive majority in voicing, ok tweeting, thoughts about how dreadful a performance that was for 80 minutes. I may have suggested that our generally encouraging transfer window, so far, was honestly only half a job. I could possibly have mentioned a thought that we have lost an almost guaranteed 20-25 top level goals from Rom and seem very likely to lose the frustrating but still, to me, clear talent of Ross B, yet we are nowhere close to replacing these guys, certainly Rom.

I think I then became emboldened as the team continued to labour against the European equivalent of Forest Green Rovers – no offence to those eco warriors and small club going places – and did suggest that we haven’t seemed to have a strategy in place for coping with Room’s departure and the new look squad, which has a fair bit to recommend it, looks horribly unbalanced. I wandered into territory that clearly drives the PP wild, by adding that we’ve stocked up on decent midfielders, look like breaking our transfer record to add another very good one soon in Glyfi, but honestly don’t have a quality target man. True DCL, at last played where he should only be played, as a CF or one of two up top, looked great for ten minutes and scored a really well taken goal. But we’ve talked about Giroud for so,long now it’s as if he’s signed and is about to make his debut. He hasn’t and frankly it’s not looking likely but we can still hope.

The keeper looks worth his £30m and the rest. Keane will I’m sure be rock solid. Sandro looks like, well I’m not sure if I’m honest but I think he will get a few goals and cause defenders headaches. Klassen went from world beater to anonymous over two legs but then superbly set up the DCL chance. Lots to come from him I’m sure. So yes there’s good things going on….but….and here it is PP…..we are still some way off securing the balanced squad Koeman needs to compete on four fronts but crucially, to have a pop at that fourth place and or a trophy. The transfer momentum has stalled, a bit. There’s a danger of unfinished business and a squad short of that top notch centre forward, a mobile centre back, and pace….yes pace…..on the wing to deliver some width we are so so missing.

Ok, is that really “negative” ? Have I suggested we’re doomed ? Is it so unrealistic to expect continued spending given that we are likely to see incoming fees top £170m in just ten weeks ? Yes I know about amortisation as so brilliantly explained on the superb new “The Blue Room”. But I don’t care, fees received has to be significant and we can surely afford to spend £270m if getting £170m in ? Anyway, that’s another debate. But here’s the thing. It is NOT being negative to call last nights “performance” poor. It was rubbish. It’s early, yes. Apparently our players are not up to speed in terms of fitness, touch, etc but the season starts in eight days. And in case anyone has forgotten we have the toughest league start in living memory, well mine anyway.

So, dear PP folk. Ease up a bit. Pragmatism is fine I get that, I’m a bit of a pragmatist myself and yeh a bit glass half empty but look, were not there yet transfer wise. It’s not seen us deliver a balanced squad and frankly we look a bit ponderous, woefully short on pace, width and strength in the air and finishing. We need to complete the very decent job done so far and quickly. That’s all I’m saying, and I think a lot of other blues right now. Mr Moshiri is clearly a NSNO kind of guy and I’m thinking he will have spotted what we have and act, soon, to get that balance right. COYB says he in incredibly positive fashion !!

Cheers, Rustyman