I learned 4 new things when I travelled to the Underbelly comedy festival in London yesterday:
- Yay! The Underbelly comedy Festival is wheelchair accessible. Hurray! There is a large disabled toilet which seems to be fairly well-respected and not used as an erstwhile crackden or loveshack. The venue itself has a side entrance for step free access and inside you sit uncomfortably close to the comedians but I think they know that you have not necessarily chosen to being the front row so they do not pick on you! There is space for your wheelchair next to a couple of seats and you are pretty much at the same height as your companion . Also excellent is the fact that your carer gets a free companion ticket 🙂
- some of the Thameslink station platforms have had the elevated section added to them which means that wheelchair users can access the trains without having to spend one hour trying to find somebody to provide a ramp… And then waiting for another half-hour whilst that person attempts to get through on the phone to your destination station to let them know that they need to get the ramp ready for your arrival! Whilst this is not necessarily good news for station staff numbers, it does make things a lot easier for wheelchair users to travel independently and not waste unnecessary time, missing various trains in the process, whilst they wait for a ramp! I travelled from King’s Cross St Pancras to Blackfriars without needing a ramp.
- There is also some improvement in that when a lift is out of order (as it was when we got off at Blackfriars station), there is actually a sign telling you what to do. Previously, we have regularly found that the lift is just out of order and varies no information about an alternative route. However, on the return journey, we took the Jubilee line from Waterloo station, and had to ask 3 times where the lift was located as it is hidden away in a corner, as if it is shy and doesn’t want to be seen by many people! In some underground stations, there is pretty good signing for wheelchair access but it has not yet appeared in Waterloo station! The lift is located at the entrance near M & S food.
- The Southbank in London is always a very active place, with street performers and buskers audible all the way along the route. Last night, a Saturday night as well, it was eerily quiet when we 1st came out of Blackfriars station but as soon as we got closer to the tourist venues of the Southbank it became its usual, rowdy self with activity, food & music spilling out of every space.