Friday, May 01, 2009
Candle Candle Candle Travel Travel Travel
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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanroygbiv/sets/72157617306444213/
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. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8019643.stm
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, http://carmarthenshiredisabilitycoalition.org.uk/ 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??? http://www.signuk.com/ exhibition, in one of the halls?? So I will have a quick look in there and a transport exhibition http://www.multimodal.org.uk/
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 http://www.livingwithataxia.org/
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 http://www.swwitch.net/ 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 http://www.bbc.co.uk/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. http://www.nomadwheelchairs.com/
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