I don’t drive yet. I’ve had a provisional licence since 2011 and many lessons. Kev even used to be a driving instructor. We gave his manual a good go and at the height of my success, I drove from Cardiff to Cwmbran – in spite of my tendency to throw my hands up off the wheel and declare “I can’t do this anymore!”
I think that probably contributed to Kev’s assertion he loved me too much to carry on teaching me and I should find another automatic instructor.
Automatic is much kinder on my weaker left leg because without a clutch it thankfully has nothing to do. I now have a wonderfully straight talking but mercifully patient automatic instructor – Denise – who makes me enjoy driving and believe with a bit of time I can learn to be a good driver. She was like gold dust to find but I’ll share my horror stories with you another day because I’ve gone off on a tangent again!
I actually wanted to talk about trains.
Besides the bloody extortionate amount it costs to travel on one these days – even with my Disabled Persons Railcard – I do enjoy travelling by train.
However, the act of physically travelling with CP is no mean feat. Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to rely on a wheelchair to announce the hardships of daily life at an undeniable volume. But why should I? Why does it seem to be expected that all physical disabilities come with a wheelchair attached? I’m both grateful and proud to have use of my legs so excuse me while I continue to use them.
Using them on the massive gap from train to platform is not something I relish. I get so scared of falling. I definitely don’t want to be in that position with Squidge. I’ve seen enough able bodied people struggle with prams on trains. I know I don’t have a hope in Hell.
Yet the train is the only way I’ll manage to get Squidge visiting my family and friends in my hometown without having to rely on Kev and the car. And honestly, what’s maternity leave for if not to go visiting with the baby?
So today, I called National Rail Travel Assistance to scope it out.
I’ve heard some horror stories from my chair using friends and experienced it myself when I went to Paris via Eurostar. But I believe the option should be open to me.
So I explained to the nice man that I have a mobility disability and a baby daughter I’d like to travel with but would need help alighting with her pram.
He promptly tells me the service isn’t for babies but for “elderly people and those with disabilities.”
I explained again – I have a disability AND a baby – and he was happy to help.
I haven’t made a journey yet but I don’t hold out much hope of a positive assisted journey when I dare to visit my family but I’ll still try because I have that right.
I suppose I should be grateful there’s a direct train… don’t want to crash the system now!
I wonder how many more times I’ll be treated oddly for being a disabled mummy? It seems I’m quite the curverball for equal opportunities manuals!
I really hope this doesn’t last.