Sense and Disability

occasionally pink-haired traveller, often spotted with blue cane.

Archive for February, 2009

Lovely London

Posted by Chelsey on February 24, 2009

Saturday was my twentieth birthday. I spent it in London getting a new computer. I started off the day at the café down the street for my Saturday mocha and croissant and then got the 10:37 train to Paddington. There were no express trains so the ride took a while.

I got a sushi lunch at Whole Foods on Kensington High Street which is absolutely gorgeous on a pretty day.

P1010308P1010315nd got my mac and since macbooks are incredibly light I lugged it on the tube and to Regent’s Park to relax before coming home and getting dinner with a flatmate. It was a very good day. Said flatmate bought me balloons and another got me candy. 


I miss my friends and family, more so now that the cards from my parents came, but it was probably the simplest and happiest birthday I’ve had in a while. Simple pleasures and all that. Also, iPhoto ’09 is AMAZING


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Oxford to Dublin: An Experience in Three Acts (Act Three)

Posted by Chelsey on February 19, 2009

Not many pictures this time because my camera was buried under copious clothes and books (five Neil and one CS Lewis I picked up at a shop Dani and I stopped into waiting for the restauran to open for lunch).

Scene: Dublin Bus Stop, eight in the morning, February eighteenth

I am waiting for the bus outside Nodis’s, watching people head to work, a couple with a baby-in-pushchair going down the street. Just, having lives. Airport to wheelchair to cart. The guy let me off at my gate then said ‘there’s some time before your flight and a cafe down there’. I wonder if  ‘I NEED a coffee was written on my face’…?

The airport is really nice but I think Stansted wins as far as wheelchair. They didn’t take me to the plane there, for instance, and I boarded last but my seat was reserved. All-in-all wheelchair worked okay with Ryanair despite Statler’s warnings. I read and slept on the plane then got to Stansted about an hour and a half before my coach. The coach station had internet so I sent in my tutorial paper. Hee hee.

On the platform (Outside the station I guess) I saw a boy (about my age) in a orange messanger hat looking very European with a French/English dictionrary he was reading. “Francais?” I asked. He nodded but that’s all. i wish he’d continued, I felt too rude to ask questions but other people always seem to have experiences where they meet people and have long conversations in these situations.

The bus was not as bad this time, though it felt interminable. It took longer than the ticket said and I don’t know why. Traffic wasn’t bad, we didn’t stay long at stops… who knows. Back in Oxford the sun was setting under a light drizzle and I felt at home. I dashed into Boots to get bandages to put myself back together. I am determined to care well for these injuries and not let them ruin my last weeks here. i am also going to focus on Oxford. London and Dublin were amazing but expect Oxford posts for a while.

Unpacked remnants:

My books are stacked on my fireplace, and I have this:


And go to Dublin if you can!

Act One

Act Two

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Oxford to Dublin: An Experience in Three Acts (Act Two)

Posted by Chelsey on February 19, 2009

Scene: Interior Chapters Bookstore, four-thirty February 17th

I have a seat. I have bought the equivalent of my plane ticket in Neil Gaiman books (all of which are justified even though it was later announced he’d only sign one). And I decide to go to the toilet beforehand so I don’t, you know, have to in the middle. Because that’s awkward. So I leave Fawkes-the-Cane at my spot and wander. Lack of cane is important, because walking by a shelf it’s not there to tell me that I am walking behind an info desk and there is a STEP. So I toppled over the step. I don’t know why. Maybe my day was too perfect up to then…. maybe it was a take-the-cane lesson or maybe it was an accident. The injury count last night when I removed make-shift bandages was two bruised knees (danger–I am praying for no infections), one cut wrist and one cut finger. All hurt. Sigh

But that’s okay. I had some sticky gauze pads in my backpack, so I fixed best I could went down the street (really…) to the restroom and had to get staff to help me regain my seat. Look, people, I came from Oxford for this.
Neil and Amanda were amazing. He read from the Book-N0t-Yet-Available (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) and she played the uke. I love that she played ‘Dear Old House That I Grew Up In’  because I understand it well, feeling much the same about Mom and Daddy moving. It’s weird….
The line was long but we were pretty far to the front (I heard people were there until ten or so) and in line I met a woman from Ravelry who had seen my post about the event! So cool! She had crochet Neil a bee, which is adorable.

I thought about giving the ‘ I came from Oxford, had my laptop and phone stolen Saturday, fell two hours ago, turn twenty on Saturday and have to lug all these back’ ramble to get stuff signed but the rational part of me knew that to be horribly unfair and also nearly too much to be believed (and yet all true). Instead I got Fragile Things signed, because of how much I adore “The Problem of Susan”  and did ramble a little for something else that is secret until someone gets it. Neil said I’m mad for coming, he should meet Mom. I also got to tell him about the time Katie and I decided he was a god. If there were world enough and time I would have also rambled on about how the short story books kept me company whenever I was lonely in London this summer. How reading Neverwhere this fall made me long to be back in London and how I won’t get to see Coraline in theatres because it’s out now at home and in May here 😦
Amanda was lovely as always and signed my postcard and took a picture even though that took far too long. It was an amazing moment.  I hate devoting so much space to Neil and less to her because she’s such an amazing person, but my rambling to her has mostly happened at other events 😀
Dani and I got food at a nice little place with almond croissants and then I took a cab to my couchsurfing host Nodis’s house. She was so sweet, with a nice little flat and an air mattress. She told me about moving to Ireland from Germany and burnt me Terry Prachett audiobooks! I zonked out by eleven, though. I probably should have slept before the coach Monday evening. Oh well.

All-in-all an amazing, amazing day that I wouldn’t trade for the world. But maybe would cut part out of.

Good night, Dublin

Next: Coming back

Act One

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Oxford to Dublin: An Experience in Three Acts (Act One)

Posted by Chelsey on February 19, 2009

Scene: Oxford High Street. One in the moring on February 17th.

I stand on the kerb with Holly and Devine (sp?) two of my flatmates who walked me up to the bus stop because one in the moring is sketchy in Oxford. The bus proceeds to be three very long hours of an uncomfortable seat and me being that American listening to Taylor Swift. (If you wish to mock me, go listen to Best Day then come back and argue).

My bag is not my large can-hold-books backpack because it had not arrived from home (still hasn’t). So my clothes are very tightly packed to make room for Neil Gaiman books. I went to Dublin to see him, you see. Bobby Bear wanted to go but knew he might get abandoned for books:


At Stansted airport I was amazed yet again by the disorganization of airports+getting a wheelchair. Once you have one you are perfect, but to get one, in this case, you get checked in and then take a paper back down the zones to Mitie who runs the chair show (army of chairs outside the window was amusing). Then you wait for a guy with a chair. And you don’t get to hang out in the airport lounge or get a freaking coffee…. But I digress.

Wheelchair guy brought along a friend– a bloke who I gathered was new to the airport–WG was about fifty and his partner had kids, probably in his thirties. I spent much of the plane ride trying to think of a suitable name for their awesomeness. I think Statler and Fozzie works well, but doesn’t quite catch it.  Statler let me know all about what airlines to take (not Ryanair, which I was on), and advised Fozzie on buying a house in that–way of the working class older brit. It sounds like stereotyping but it’s here, promise.

They took me down to pre-board the plane. On the plane, I slept. Apparently Ryanair charges alot for food. You don’t need food if you pack copious Nutrigrain bars. Ask me how i know. Cane on plane:


Dublin airport, wheelchair to cash machine, purchased postcards and got on the bus. I took the local bus per my host’s advice and saw the advertisement that shows that Burger King adapts! (Was there a Bush version of this? Obama? Brown?):



Also Gaelic on the signs which I hadn’t realized happened:


There was a woman on the bus who was obviously mentally handicapped. She had bright red irish hair and I could picture her in the 1860s, a weak relation… Unable to immigrate…. I think in stories.

Off the bus I went to meet Dani, my couchsurfing host’s friend who was also going to the signing. Dublin is so pretty. There are lovely buildings, and a river right in the centre, with several nice bridges.


P1010247 Water

We met at the Library Bar which is GORGEOUS and has good coffee.


I made my way there with my map and got there early (!) so I wrote to Laura. Then we had sushi. Good sushi. With eel. I am in love. The restaurant (Yamamori) was really sunny and light.

We sat and chatted for ages about language, being sick a lot, travel and I don’t know what else. She was such a nice girl and I love hearing people’s stories. We then went to the ampitheatre. I perched on top, perhaps having a premoniton, perhaps not wanting to chance fate and topple down stone stairs. Nevertheless, it was beautiful. The slightly cloudy sky excentuated the grey stone and it felt incredibly peaceful. After that, we went to this little place called the Queen of Tarts for hot chocolate. I love little shops on side streets. It really makes a city for me if there are precious cafes in hidden spots.

P1010261 Dani at the amphitheatre

P1010263 Queen of Tarts menu

It also makes me glad that I got to go around with a local instead of a tourist book. I got a feel for walking around Dublin that morning. It’s much less rushed than London, and everyone seems more…calm. I don’t like that it runs on buses because when you’re unsure where you’re going that’s confusing, but it also shows how walkable the city is.

 Oh, Oglekids:


Next act: Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer!

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Less to do with Disability than Sense and little Sense

Posted by Chelsey on February 14, 2009

My laptop got stolen tonight. My door doesn’t lock because the key is too tricksy for me to turn and the organization hadn’t replace it. Someone came into the house and waltzed in and took my phone and laptop.

But you know what? It’s fixable. Well to a point. And i’m not lettin it stop me. I’m going to Dublin on Tuesday. And I think I’ve learned that from having a disability. Stuff sucks and things go wrong. but you can’t let it stop you.

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The Fray

Posted by Chelsey on February 11, 2009

I saw the Fray from the front row last night. I stood there for the entire show and watched them play the songs I’ve known by heart since I was seventeen. It was amazing.

Not so amazing is the Kings Cross area– they don’t lie when they say it’s sketch– or the cold that meant I had to leave London early or keep sneezing.

Getting on the bus was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in a while. London is definitely my city…

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Southern Belles in London Sing

Posted by Chelsey on February 5, 2009

Last night i went to London to see Amanda Palmer play at the Electric Ballroom. I’m a concert addict, it seems, I’m seeing six this term, only one of which did I think to call for disabled seats (and they gave me an extra free ticket, pity it was the last one I booked).

I set off for London at 11 or so but my train didn’t leave ’til 1:30 and as usual I underestimated my walking speed. Once in London I realized that my cute Converse were NOT a good idea for walking ’round the streets of London. Scraping the back of my heel, dastardly shoes! The hostel was okay. First floor does not mean ground floor, but not bad. When I got to the room all the bottom bunks were taken, so i wrote a note on a girl’s ‘claimed bed’ slip in the hopes that she’d grab a top bunk This comes into play later.


I set off to find food, coffee, and a postcard to get Amanda to sign (rather than shipping posters home, plus I already have a signed poster from her…) 

I found SUSHI I have failed at finding good sushi in London since ever. It was great. Then I hobbled (shoes) into the line and stood outside the venue with the other cold people for an hour and a half. I think I may have been the only person on my own. The crowd was a crowd and I am proud to say that my usual epic fear of crowds did not kicked in. I managed at one point to get three rows in but the two girls in front of me then couldn’t move and I was too close to think ‘oh I’ll just stay and hear the music’ because I could SEE THE STAGE Security Guy that the girls in front of me asked about me getting closer said ‘Oh go see my supervisor to the far right under the red light’. It’s a club. Can I tell you how many red lights there were? No because I couldn’t count them.

Eventually I found myself perched on the top of a three stair stairwell near the stage, a kind of breezeway to the steps for the next floor, but there ended up being little space where people weren’t standing. Disabled visually impaired me could SEE THE STAGE. that doesn’t happen. I stood the whole time (I’m making that six hours) and I’m fine. I didn’t know I could do that.

After the show I got my postcard signed and Amanda recognized me. And it wasn’t the cane, i didn’t have that in Atlanta! 

On my walk back to the hostel it was lightly snowing, but didn’t stick. At the hostel girl was asleep in bunk. I hope she didn’t speak english because otherwise she’s a bitch. Downstairs to the bar/reception. The guy was quite good about switching me to a new room but the whole group in there was asleep so I felt awful going in and out to change.

Next morning I hobbled to the tube, not because of standing all night before but my shoes. New shoes, bad idea. 

The Underground and I need to have a talk. I love it. Love, love. But it doesn’t make sense there are stairs in stations that have lifts from the station level down to a set of stairs. Paddington has escalators right until the platform. How is that supposed to work with LUGGAGE let alone disability? 

Train and tube were uneventful, except vague ponderings on the snow outside the train window. And then, sure enough, slush all over Oxford. Other people look so collected walking through it as if it were nothing. I feel like Bambi on the first day of spring. But I made it home and to my tutorial with no incidents. 

We’ll see how next week goes when I go back to London to see The Fray!

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A Little Change

Posted by Chelsey on February 5, 2009

Hi guys,

If anyone’s still reading this from its first incarnation I thought I’d let you know that until the end of May (at least) this is gonna serve mostly as my travel blog, about traveling with a disability. So feel free to read or not based on that!

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