Friday, May 22, 2009


International CANDLE search ???

Depart for Cardiff Airport, early Tuesday morning (5-5-09)
We parked, the car, at Days Inn, and took the shuttle bus, to the airport.
Land at Reus Airport, bus transfer to Hotel
Hotel Dorauda Palace
4 star, very clean, two pools, (with an extra pool on the roof)
Not too far from the town/beach, across some very busy roads (only “niggle” was the hotel was along a short, 50 metre, incline, manual wheelchair “not impossible” but a long struggle).
(a more detailed report, of the hotel, will be posted at tripadvisor
For my liking, Salou, is very English. Not much evidence you are in Spain !!.
Even the Paella, I had, was a frozen meal !!
A ride on the “Noddy Train” will let you see the town, 3 Euro for round trip, trip is LONGER, than what you think. Catch it at it “stops” along the road, indicated by different coloured balls, corresponding to the route, it takes.
Prices, on a par with UK, perhaps on the dearer side, HINT McDonald`s is has very prices, (tea / coffee, is popular with the locals.
Seems there is plenty of PUBLIC toilets (metal buildings, with timber coverings) NOTE : STEPS to them !!!.
Train station Salou (day trip Dawn, Alan and Jason).
Main Station in Salou, has a ticket office, cafe (small) toilets (metal, TARDIS type, coin operated ) .
Find it at the Southern end of the promenade, (by the MARINA) about two streets further back, (Portaventura has a station, but is unmanned, and a bit out of the town).
Can get very busy, buy your ticket DONT FORGET TO VALIDATE IT BEFORE you get on the train, in the RED machines on the exit door of the ticket office.
Trains are clean and spacious, except busy times, when it becomes very crowded.
Beware of the large gap, between the train and the platform and the very BIG step up to the carriage. Disabled travellers will find this difficult, but plenty of help is at hand !!.
Toilets available, on trains, and at the stations.
Main stations seem to have some sort of lift, for wheelchairs, but saw NO evidence of this elsewhere.
Salou to Barcelona takes approx one and a half hours, THREE stations in Barcelona Sants (ground level)—Pesseig de Gracia (below ground, STEPS-to ground level)—Estacio de Franca (ground level), and near to the Zoo and Arc de Triumf.
Return journey Adult 12.10 Euro – child 8.10 Euro
Times (we used) or (better still) your hotel can supply you with a timetable.
Salou 8.43 – 10.13 – 11.42 – 14.13
Barcelona SANTS 13.33 – 15.03 – 16.33 – 18.03
Third station, Estacio de Franca, up to the
Museu de Xcocolata
A very interesting museum of chocolate, with plenty of objects too see, plus some impressive exhibits, plus a shop and cafe.
Then up to Arc de Triomf a HUGE, RED brick archway, in a very pleasant public park/pedestrianised area, we had picnic in Pg.Lluis Companys (a packed lunch was supplied, by the hotel, as we were taking a evening meal). A great place to have a picnic, a busy place, but a it is so massive it is not crowded (A view I have of Barcelona, as a whole, it is very busy but so “big” and widespread, the busy-ness dosen`t seem too bad)
Along too the Parc de la Ciutadello Zoo
A MASSIVE Zoo. A very popular place, for all ages, and a place to spend alot of the day.
The animals seem to be in large enclosures, and there is plenty of animals, to see (not like some zoo`s)
16 Euro for adult - Disabled 5 Euro - 9.60 Euro child
Back to catch, the train, to Salou
But which one ??, there were 14 trains, on 14 platforms – no indication, which one and no one to ask (language barrier).
One day, we arranged to meet – Sarah Allen-from LWA in MacDonalds, in Salou . We met there, as it was easy to find and tea coffee, was a reasonable price (the cheapest place in Salou, no wonder so many people go there !!)
Sarah lives, just outside Tarragona, just along the coast.
Portaventura, (Day 1) HUGE Theme park (owned by Unervisal Studios) (Dawn, Alan, Elaine and Jason)
Tickets bought in UK, before departure (fairly dear, but its worth the cost) take your own food and drinks, as inside the park its very expensive.
Alan and Elaine hire mobility scooters (25 Euro, each, per visit !!!!!!!) and it is adviseable, as the park is huge and all on a slope.
Rides on rollercoasters Tami Tami, Tomahawk, Tren de la Mina
Underwater submarine ride, Sea Odyssey, Serpiete emplumada
Portaventura (day 2)
Rollercoasters Stampedia and (NOT me) Furius Baco
Water rides Grand Canyon Rapids, Silver River Flume (both NOT for me)

Monday, (Alan and Dawn) trip to Barcelona
Salou to Barcelona / Estacio de Sants (another massive station)
We exited, the station, on the bus station side, but couldn’t find the Bus Turistic office/bus stop !!
Back into, the station, we exited the opposite side, to find the right office/bus stop.

Paid, got tickets, maps, money off vouchers,(worth 180 Euros).
Blue route (2 hours) from Sants return to Sants train station. (our plan is to see a very brief view of what is on offer, in Barcelona, and too return on a (cheap) weekend visit).
As the bus route is a “hop on Hop off” we got off at Teleferic de Monjuic (cable car) which has magnificent views of Barcelona. At the start of the ride, it was pretty scarey !!. Each “Gondala” can take up to people, but Dawn and I went for one between us (plus it is wheelchair friendly ).
A youtube video I have found
After the ride, we caught, another bus, on the blue route, which continued on the journey, back to Sants railway station.
In Salou, we walked along the promenade, met Jason and Elaine, shopped, stopped for tea, before
returning, to the hotel, and pack, our luggage, ready for our return flight, in the morning, to Cardiff.
The weather, in UK was WARM ??, enough for us to be able to sit on the patio, and continue topping up, the TAN

The next morning, I was to get the bus, in StClears, to catch the train to Chesterfield
At Newport, the train connection, I was going on, was NOT stopping at Bristol Parkway due to trespassers (where one person was killed) on the line, and then all the electronic displays were not working due to a computer problem at the, main, signalling depot, in Swindon
I was attending a meeting of Sheffield Ataxia support group, where Dr Marios H (Dr at the Ataxia clinic, in Sheffield), was speaking.
I managed to arrange to stay with good friends Dave and Glenys, who were also attending the meeting. I also had the opportunity to meet Neil (Daves PA).
It was a very interesting meeting, where we all seemed to learn alot more about Ataxia, and its complexities plus the TASK the Drs have when dealing with the diagnosis of the Ataxias.
We all made very good contacts/friends. I hope to attend, some of their meetings in the future
Dave, Glenys, Neil and I went for lunch, at a local carvery eatery, before returning to their house.
My return, train journey, was delayed by vandals, on the train / track (in Sheffield) and again, the train was delayed, as a freight train was on the same track ???.

Will get photos uploaded to flickr
Video clips at youtube

Monday, May 04, 2009



Just a small update, before my travels.
Went to see “Son of Rambow” in theatr Mwldan, yesterday. It was a free screening put on by
Came home and mowed the lawn, good job too as its raining today !!
Uploaded some more photos to flickr of my few days at the NAIDEX and visiting the NEC complex and
Hopefully a trip to Barcelona and then one day meeting up with another Ataxian who lives in Spain, who is also on LWA

Friday, May 01, 2009


Candle Candle Candle Travel Travel Travel

Note *** writing this on the train, so forgive the spelling.
Friday, Dawn and I, took the train to Leicester, to attend the Ataxia UK Branch Officers Conference.
It was a straightforward, journey (changes at Newport – Bristol Parkway –Birmingham New Street –Leicester and then taxi to the University.
We met up with Harriet and Alison at Birmingham New Street. It was FANTASTIC to meet H again and to meet Alison (who I have only seen on LWA and other forums).
We were shown to our accommodation, at the Uni. After we had unpacked we all went to reception where we met other delegates, that had come to the conference.
It was great to meet people, who you know, by name and so put a face to the name. We all then gathered, for an evening meal - menu
Afterwards, we had a small “get to know” each other, before meeting up in the BAR, Where we got to know each other even better. ( we knew each other, by name, or had seen a photo, but had not met each other, in person)
Saturday, nice and early, we went down to breakfast, before going to the meeting room, for the start, of the conference. All the delegates got on really well, and were soon chatting to each other, and helping each other on some group tasks, sharing branch activities and experiences with EXCELLENT results.
Refreshments at intervals, lunch (at lunch time, obviously) with a finish at around 5.20 pm.
We all went to freshen up, ready for the evening meal.
After the meal, again we all went to the bar, where we got to know each other even better, some stayed until the bar was empty. (Alan-Dawn-Alison-Harriet-Sue).
Sunday, we all went for breakfast, before the delegates started to make their journeys home. We managed to have a few delegates, have a group photo, before everyone disappeared. Photos of the weekend
Alison-Harriet-Gary-Jean-Dawn-and I sat in the sun, while we waited, for our taxis to the train station.
Gary and Jeans train was first to leave. Then we went to the platform to get our train (which was leaving an hour later.
Harriet was getting a different train to Alison and ourselves. All our trains where greatly DELAYED. (unknown, to us, a major incident, was taking place, in Birmingham).
I remember, hearing lots of police sirens, while at Leicester station.
We said our goodbyes, to H, we felt very guilty, having to leave her, alone at the station.
We got on a train, for Birmingham New Street, but in Nuneaton the train stopped, and were told to get off, as this service, was CANCELLED !!!.
NO ONE knew what was going on !!!. One passenger had a phone call from his wife, in HOLLAND, to say there was a MAJOR ALERT in BIRMINGHAM, and the city was at a stand still !!, we were later told of the incident of someone being KIDNAPPED and tied to a bomb, near to the railway, so trains could NOT enter the station.
We eventually got a train via Coventry, that was direct into Birmingham New Street (why this service was let in, I am not sure????. During all this we had to say “farewell” to Alison, who was going on a different train to us. Low and behold, we bumped into her half an hour later, as the train delays, struck, again!!!!.
We got home (after a short, snack, in McDonalds, Carmarthen) at 9.35 pm.
The weekend was exhausting, VERY ENJOYABLE and we all made some long lasting friendships, most delegates have agreed to meet at this year’s Ataxia UK conference, in Manchester on October 3rd.
Yesterday, (Monday) I went to a meeting of Carmarthenshire Disability Coalition for Action, very interesting and I managed to do some NETWORKING (odd thing for me to be doing!!!)
As I said writing this on the way to NEC Birmingham, to go to NAIDEX
There is also some sort of digital display??? exhibition, in one of the halls?? So I will have a quick look in there and a transport exhibition
Tonight, I went to a pub/restaurant, for supper, very nice (and much cheaper than in the hotel). I also, went online to see what hotels I could try for an extra nights stay, but any hotel, near the NEC, is fairly expensive (cheaper ones, are further away, and when you add in the taxi fare to the NEC, plus the convenience, it soon makes the prices seem fairly good).
In the morning, was having, breakfast and I met Shane Bratby and partner (from the Ataxia UK forum (and met at the AtaxiaUK conference). We all went to NAIDEX, on the shuttle bus.
We then split up, as I went to the sign and digital show, to gather information about advertising materials. I have made some important links and contacts with many companies. (many of which, have agreed to highlight Living with Ataxia
Back to NAIDEX, where I met up with Shane, within minutes, of entering. After a small chat we split up again, to look at what was on offer. The show is MASSIVE, in one afternoon I only managed to see some of the exhibitors stands
I bumped into a few people I know, exhibiting there and Katie Henderson (Ex Ataxia UK)

half, of the show !! I decided to stay another night (with Dawns, help to source, a hotel)
Dawn managed too book me a room at RAMADA Oncore NEC, and she got the hotel to text me the booking reference) a new hotel, very clean and a bit sparse, NO other food outlets nearby, so evening meal HAD to be taken in the hotel.
On the way to the taxi rank, at the NEC, I noticed that there was ANOTHER exhibition taking place, to do with transport – MODAL?
No breakfast, at the hotel, was included in the price, no matter I managed to sleep in til 8.30am !!!!. I got a taxi over to NAIDEX (£6), but went to see the transport exhibition.
Not what I expected !!! mostly about lorries, containers and cargo worldwide. But all the same I met with a gentleman who remembered me from a SWWITCH meeting in Wales.
Also went around gathering “goodies” (mugs, frisbies,pens).
Then back to NAIDEX. Making a lot more contacts, and making people aware of Ataxia UK and the South Wales Branch, all people, I spoke to has put my details on their information list.
I have also made contact with many companies, that are thinking of expanding their “working” area to cover Wales , including a gentleman distributing a bench and “swinging” seat to help couples have a fulfilling sex life, through another outlet of “trendy” wheelchairs.
In all I must of spoken to over 100 people, all of whom are more knowledgeable about Ataxia, because of my discussions. Most distributors were happy to give away some sort of “freebies” (mugs,frisbies,sweets,key rings,cool bags,”stress busting” squashy balls and memory sticks). My wheelchair is straining under the extra weight, of all the “extra collections”.
BBC OUCH had a stand with a separate show, with Lawrence Clark,(he told some good jokes, which went down well with the crowd, of people, which had gathered to see him, and with whom I had a brief chat and photo opportunity .
I made my way around some of the stalls, which I had missed and spoke to a company, that manufactures some “trendy”wheelchairs, to my surprise (and theirs) we both come from the same county, we are about 25 miles apart !!!. We have swapped details and will keep in touch.
I also made contact with someone looking into the possibility of setting up a disability rehabilitation centre who will be contacting me for further discussions on the topic.
It was then time to go to the luggage office, to retrieve, my bags, and then go to the train station. I was an hour early, but they put me on an earlier train to Birmingham New Street, when their I had to wait for 50 mins, for my connection to Cardiff.
The train to Cardiff, broke down at Cheltenham Spa, so all passengers had to get off ?? (left me on the train!! Managed to get off (with some STRESSED, train driver) then I had to wait (with some unhappy travellers) to get the next train to Cardiff, which when it reached Cardiff, it was too late for the train to Carmarthen ???. At Swansea the station master provided me with a taxi back to Carmarthen.

Friday 1st May, went to Coleshill.
Next week, off to Spain, and to Tarragona, to meet a fellow Ataxian

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