Sometimes I have to wonder who I think I am. It’s true that a lot of people ignore a cause until it affects them personally. I guess I’m just one of those people. If you have been reading my health posts you will know that I am currently using a wheelchair. Having never had to use a chair before, every difficulty faced is new to me. Like the first time I tried to get on a bus, only the driver dropped the ramp without actually lowering the bus and I tried to wheel myself up I flipped over onto my back. Hello A&E.
But I’m not one for wanting to be cooped up (we’ll not talk about my current housebound status) so for my sisters birthday we decided to all meet up for a meal. We decided to go to Zizzi’s in New Change, central London. I have no idea why my sister has decided that this is her favourite place because the last time we ate there, first time for me, I found the food horrendous! But it was her big day and not mine so I went along planning to try something different and see if London was as wheelchair friendly as it claimed to be.
One of the things that appealed to me was that New Change is like a shopping mall in as much as there are flat, smooth floors and probably more than one lift I can get into. Driving up there I went with my sister, we’ll call her Samantha. She drives a Golf and as well as my wheelchair in the boot and us two in the front she had her 4 and 5 year olds in their car seats in the back and my 19 year old in the middle. It was an interesting journey that wasn’t made any easier my London traffic on a Saturday afternoon. When we arrived our elder sister, I’ll call her Antoinette, had found a parking space big enough for two cars and was holding it for us. Getting out and into the wheelchair was slow but I managed it. And we’re off!!!!
If you have ever tried to wheel yourself along a London street I have the utmost respect for you. If you haven’t, don’t! The slightest gradient pulls at your wheels and you are constantly struggling not to go sideways as well as trying to move forwards. I got about 50 feet before I had to ask to be pushed. When we got into New Change it was a different matter. I was like David Weir. Go on, Google him. I’ll wait. Finished? OK. I was zipping up and down. Now, as soon as we got into New Change there are two very busy elevators with queues and behind some escalators for those who don’t want to wait. While I was waiting a very friendly security guard came up to me and let me know that there was a quieter lift just over to one side. He escorted me over and even held the door. Score 1 for London.
Going into Zizzi’s I felt apprehensive. We hadn’t called ahead to let them know that I was a wheelchair user and I was afraid that there would not be room. The staff didn’t skip a beat and we were escorted in and seated with ease. The meal went so smoothly that I almost forgot I was in a chair myself. Far from being a problem it wasn’t even irregular, in fact there was already one wheelchair user there when we arrived and another came before we left.
Sidenote. The food was a lot better. I took note of what I was ordering and ordered food that suited me rather than just whats was recommended. The butterfly king prawns for started paired with sharing some mozzarella garlic bread was so good I could have had it again for my main. For my actual main I had a Pulled Pork Roma pizza which, although it was delicious, had nothing on my daughters Chianti Lamb Shank. There’s only so much Lamb pity will get you off someone elses plate. It wasn’t long before she was less. Of course you can have some, and more Touch my food, feel my fork. I finished my meal off with the Chocolate and Banana Calzone without the cream, I can’t do cream.
Getting myself out again was just as easy until we got to the main road. Like I said, wheeling yourself along a street is not easy but the crossings were close the pavements were lowered just right and my brother-in-law pushed me at just the right speed.
The journey home was in my sister Antoinette and her husbands Audi which had a lot more space. I got home exhausted but well fed and happy. London does seem to be wheelchair friendly. I guess I was big headed to think that there have not been hundreds and thousands of Londoners before me who have gone through worse and petitioned for the kind of equality and accessibility I take for granted.
I did Tweet that I was about to embark on my first public wheelchair journey and @JohnStanleyTwit asked if it was. I’m sorry I neglected to update you all. I hope this post answers your question.