Hi everyone, I hope you are all well and keeping busy. I’ve been busy this last 10 days or so! On Friday 23rd July, my love, Tatiana, and I headed to Weston-super-Mare in Somerset for the weekend to stay with my parents. Normally a straightforward journey! However, this one turned out to be problematic! Upon arrival at Taunton, our train to Worle, a suburb village of Weston was delayed and then subsequently canceled. So we had an hour or more to wait for another train. One eventually arrived and rail assistance staff put us on the train. We were told that this train wouldn’t be stopping in Worle, so I phoned my mum to request we be met at Weston train station instead. However, 5 mins after contacting my mum, the train manager informed me that the train would now be calling at Worle after all! What a mess. Upon arrival into Weston-super-Mare, platform staff were unsure on which platform we’d arrive on as all the electric notice boards were in correct and the station staff had no clue what was happening! My mum eventually found us and all was resolved! On Saturday we headed to the Isle of Portland, as it’s called. Not really an island as it’s linked by a causeway that can be walked at low tide. It was a long car journey across Somerset’s country roads. Once in Portland, a famous former port for the Royal Navy, we visited and explored the old Portland Castle, built on the order of King Henry VIII in the 1540s to repell possible attacks by the French from across the English channel. Although the fort or castle had several large cannon, they only saw action once, during the English Civil War, (1642-1649). The castle was later converted into a private property. It eventually fell into the hands of England Heritage who returned it to its original look as a Tudor defencive fort. We moved onto Portland Bill Lighthouse and it’s interactive centre. Unfortunately, the Lighthouse still wasn’t open for climbing at the time of our visit. It maybe open now. The visitor centre was interesting. Lots of written info on the history of Portland Bill Lighthouse, from its early beginnings to its present-day usage under automatic power. Our last stop, late in the day, was near Dorchester, Dorset’s county town, to visit the Iron Age fortified mound of Maiden Castle. This was a Celtic settlement erected before the invasion of the Roman army in 43 AD. My step-dad and I had a brief, fast, steep hike up the grassy embankments to see what could be discover – a series of high never-ending grass-soil embankments and valleys. Hi up on a large hill it was heavily defended by earth walls and ditches. The Roman’s imagined after climbing up 40 feet (12 metres) of steep banks, they’d find the enemy in hiding. However, the Romans were met by more high and steep earthen fortifications. The Celtic tribes were simply waiting to pick off any attackers at random. It’s Britain’s largest Iron Age fortification and seems to stretch for miles/kilometres in a series of earthen mud banks, one hill after another. On Sunday, 25th July, my parents drove us over the boarder into Wales to visit St. Faggans; a national park housing many different reconstructed heritage buildings from all over Wales. A fascinating day out for both my girlfriend and I. We were able to enter buildings and houses from the various ages of Welsh history and culture and learn how peopled lived in the mid-late 19th century and early-mid 20th century. We walked around the walls of a pig sty, entered an old, late 19th century school classroom, a 1950s-1960s working men’s gaming room and entered several old-fashion homes. We were able to touch wooden furniture and had described the layout of several different houses as they moved forwards through the decades, increasing in modernity as we went. A fascinating day out. On the Monday we headed to the Somerset village of Cheddar to hear the raging water in the Cheddar Gorge before experiencing cheese tasting, a delicious experience. Later we drove to Well, England’s smallest City. Although Wells has the feel and population of a small town or large village, it’s classified as a City in the UK because it has a cathedral. and an old one at that. It dates to at least the 11th century and maybe even older. Many people visit Wells to witness the famous swans ring the bell and be fed. On the Tuesday, Tatiana and I returned to Teignmouth, this time with no train problems. The following day we took the long train journey, nearly 3 hours, to Penzance – the westernmost town in England. In Penzance, a town we’ve visited before, we had rail staff cross us over the road to the nearby bus station. We asked about buses to the small hamlet of Cripplease, a 30-minute to 1-hour bus journey through small and narrow country lanes. Our destination was the old pub and guesthouse called The Engine Inn. A interesting historic place almost half way between Penzance and St. Ives. We were staying there for one night to go to see/hear a show at the famous open-air Minack Theatre. Though Cripplease wasn’t exactly near the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, it was the only reasonably inexpensive accommodation I could find in West Cornwall at short notice! We could have reach the Minack via two buses, but what with all the hassle of changing buses and waiting times then having a 10-minute or more walk to the actual theatre, we thought it prudent to take a taxi each way. It cost £80 in total, but was the easiest way to get there and back. Experiencing a live show at the outdoor venue of the famous Minack Theatre was thrilling. I’d organised audio descriptive commentary and it was fantastic. The performers were excellent and gave a modern twist on William Shakespeare’s The Winter Tail, the second half of the show turned into a 1980s musical and the audience joined in! We stat on the rough grassy terracing and experienced all the natural elements of the theatre, the fantastic acoustics, the hard rough rocks surrounding us and the chilling wind that cut through the exposed theatre in the second half. What an experience. We had a relatively quiet day on the Thursday and basically travelled to our next accommodation at the Penryn Campus of Cornwall University near Falmouth. Again, this place was chosen because of its availability for 3 nights and because of its relatively reasonable price for Cornwall, that is! Getting around the spacious and rural campus was interesting and, at times, difficult and frustrating. However, we usually found someone to help us. finding the bus stops just off the campus was trickier. We mainly relaxed on the Friday, 30th July, just visiting Falmouth Town in the evening, a 15-minute bus ride from Penryn Campus and had dinner in a packed and lively Weatherspoons pub. On the Saturday, we eventually ventured to nearby Redruth, the heart of Cornwall’s former tin and copper mining industry. Indeed, it was in Redruth that, William Murdoch, the first man to have gas lighting in his home, indeed, the first house in the world to have this, lived and worked. Murdoch was arguably the inventor of the modern gas industry. Redruth turned out to be an interesting, though extremely steep town, as we found out almost immediately on our arrival. Getting there was slightly taxing. First of all we had to find our way off the Penryn Campus and then find the correct bus to drop us outside Penryn train station. However, I must have taken a wrong turn as we went up one of the many steep hills and we became lost. Luckily, we met a couple of former students and they showed us to a bus stop. However, buses from this stop didn’t go directly to Penryn station and we were told we’d have to walk down a hill, go under a railway bridge and then ascend a big steep hill to reach the train station. Luckily, another bus driver heard our conversation and suggested we take a different bus a couple of stops, alight, cross the road and take a bus in the opposite direction which would drop us directly outside Penryn station. This is what we did. At the train station we met more kind people who showed us the way to the only platform and helped us board. Unfortunately, upon arrival at Truro, one of the Cornwall mainline stations, we discovered that our train to Redruth was delayed by nearly an hour. Apparently, many train staff had caught Covid or had been in contact with someone who had covid and this meant the railway was short staffed and many trains were delayed or had been cancelled. Luckily, our train was still running. 20 minutes after our train departed Truro we arrived in Redruth. A kind train staff member at Redruth helped us off the train and escorted us over the bridge and part way down the hill into Redruth town. I’d done a little research and new that Fore Street was one of the main shopping streets and that one of the town’s landmarks was a statue of a tin miner. This we attempted to find. We literally walked into him, stood on a concrete round poll at the junction of Fore Street and High Street. This is where we discovered that Redruth is an extremely hilly town. We wandered slowly up Fore Street, checking out some of the buildings as we walked, touching the stones and old brick walls of several buildings. Eventually, we attempted to search for a pub to have dinner. Unfortunately, all the pubs we found in Redruth only served drinks and not food. After inquiring at one pub, a gentleman of an indeterminable age, and a little drunk, kindly helped us find a small restaurant next to Redruth’s only cinema. Tatiana and I had a delicious meal and then attempted to find the bus stop to head back to Truro and onto Penryn. Naturally, we became lost, but another kind local gave us directions up yet more hills and told us which directions to take to reach the bus stop. As we slowly strolled up the very steep High Street, a nice guy from the northwest of England offered to walk with us. He even showed us where the sculptures of the bronze dogs were located. Dog statues made out of tin miner’s boots. An interesting creation of art! We finally reached the bus stop, where a couple who were also going to Penryn, helped us get the correct buses to both Truro and Penryn. Around midnight we finally made it back to the campus. Early Sunday morning, 1st August, Tatiana and I took an extremely long train journey to London Stansted Airport where, sadly, tatiana caught a flight back to Greece and I caught a train back to Teignmouth. What a week, what an adventure! I hope you enjoy my stories and description. Thanks for reading and following. Keep safe. Cheers, Tony :).
A means to accessible travel
Hi everyone, I hope you’re all well and busy travelling :). Below is a lengthy article about a British man who invented a travel chair for his disabled wife after, once again, receiving poor specialist assistance at London Heathrow Airport. Something that, sadly, is a frequent experience! I thought you all might find this article interesting, especially for anyone who like/wants to travel. The chair sounds great, though it seems a little expensive at first glance. But if one can use the chair to gain greater freedom and travel, then it’s probably worth it. Enjoy article, Stay safe, happy days, Thanks, Tony :).
TRAVELLER CHAIR – WITH YOU ALL THE WAY! The story of how one man became an inventor for the love of his life.
Now available to pre-order!
A story of how the husband of a wife with reduced mobility decided to take on the world issue of travel challenges and invented a product to totally change their travel experiences – all in the name of love.
Richard Williams is a manufacturing specialist and a professional engineer. His wife Jane has cerebral palsy and has had this condition since birth. What this means is that she finds it difficult to walk excessive distances, particularly when travelling through airports.
It was on a trip coming back from Asia into Heathrow about 5.30 am, tired, hungry and they just wanted to get home. No wheelchair service provider appeared, as was arranged, and this wasn’t the first time. There was no-one around to help. So Richard ended up scrabbling around trying to find a wheelchair.
This was the lightbulb moment, when Richard thought to himself ‘I can fix this. I am a manufacturing specialist and professional engineer. I CAN FIX THIS!’ So what started out as an idea three years ago has become Traveller Chair.
Traveller Chair is a lightweight folding transit chair that folds down to a carry-on size case that meets 95% of airline requirements for hand luggage. So, with a Traveller Chair, you do not have to be reliant upon third party services as the chair can stay with you all the way.
Traveller Chair retails at £395 excluding VAT and has a variety of features that make it a must-have travel companion.
Traveller Chair Features:
● WEIGHS ONLY 9kg approx – it’s the lightest folding adult transit wheelchair available.
● SUPPORTS 100kg – It’s an ultra-lightweight wheelchair but still strong enough to support passengers up to 100kg (16 stone).
● INTEGRAL CASE – It holds 72 hours worth of travel essentials in both case and chair modes.
● EASY TO TRANSPORT – It’s lightweight, making it ideal to transport on long trips.
● COMPACT DESIGN – It can fit into car boots with ease and complies with over 95% of airline carry-on luggage requirements.
● EASILY FOLDS/UNFOLDS – Quick folding and unfolding (in under 30 seconds) combined with its ultra-lightweight profile makes it ideal for people with reduced mobility.
● SHOULDER/LAP STRAP – It comes with a shoulder strap for ease of carrying when folded which also doubles up as a lap strap for extra security and safety when sat in the Traveller Chair.
● CARRY HANDLE – makes carrying easier when folded.
● Eligible for VAT relief
The chair has undergone a make-over in its last phase of manufacturing and has a great new look which incorporates flashes of cyan colour, a greenish-blue, that we are affectionately calling Traveller Chair blue. The bright lively greenish-blue reminds us of the sunshine sparkling on azure blue seas on our holidays (you’ll see what we mean from the images below!). The mechanical features of the chair have also had a makeover, making it really clear for the users of the chair to fold and unfold as they embark on their journey.
There are future plans to release a range of luggage that will work with the Traveller Chair to make it the must-have transit wheelchair and luggage range to give optimum freedom and independence to those with reduced mobility.
You can pre-order your own Traveller Chair now at www.travellerchair.com with deliveries expected in early Autumn.
If you would like more information about this topic, please email email@example.com.
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— Tony Giles blind solo traveller and public speaker. Author of new eBook: Seeing a Slice of Southern Africa My Way ISBN 9781839781544 https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08RWLRC2F/ I’m Fund raising for Galloways Society for the Blind, a charity that supports blind and visually impaired people throughout the northwest of England. my challenge: to raise £3,850 or more. Half for Galloways to support their fine work and half to send me to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru in April 2022. My Go fund me page: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TonyGiles1
It’s the 17th of May, and a few more restrictions have been removed for people living in England. This is good news. I’m beginning to get out and explore a little further. Heading to the famous Roman Baths in Bath tomorrow for a spot of history and can’t wait. I’m cautiously optimistic about the further opening up of the country. However, I am aware of the situation of the rapid spread of this new Indian variant of the virus, especially in the Northwest of England, and plan to be careful when out and about. I will continue to wear my mask in indoor public places and keep my distance from other people where possible. Although, this is often difficult for us blind people! :). I’m planning to fly to Greece at the beginning of June to see and hug my beloved, who I’ve not seen since February 2020! This is far too long to be apart! I’m very excited about travelling again. Travelling is my life, and life is for living :). Have a great day and week, be careful, stay safe and have fun where you can. Cheers, Tony :).
PS, I realise not everyone in the UK is as fortunate as me to be able to go out and do things again. Many people are still shielding and many others haven’t had a vaccine, for whatever reason. These people should not be judged or slandered for not having a vaccine, they may have personal, health or religious or cultural reasons for not having one. They might simply be scared to have a vaccine, especially with all the scaremongering that is about on social media. Many thanks, continue checking out my fascinating travel eBooks and my Go fund me page. Information is below. Thanks, Tony :). — Tony Giles blind solo traveller and public speaker. Author of new eBook: Seeing a Slice of Southern Africa My Way ISBN 9781839781544 https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08RWLRC2F/ I’m Fund raising for Galloways Society for the Blind, a charity that supports blind and visually impaired people throughout the northwest of England. my challenge: to raise £3,850 or more. Half for Galloways to support their fine work and half to send me to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru in April 2022. My Go fund me page: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TonyGiles1 Author of Ebooks:
*Seeing The Americas My Way* An emotional journey (2016) Available from Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M14JY50 Kobo – store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/seeing-the-americas-my-way
*Seeing The World My Way* A totally blind and partially deaf guy’s global adventures (2010, repub 2016)
Second edition is available from all Ebook sites. Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01NAMEO2B
Website: www.tonythetraveller.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/theblindbackpacker YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/TonyGilesTraveller
Travel Thoughts and Podcast
Hi, I hope this finds you all, my lovely fans and followers, well on this cold, windy UK Monday, 26 April 2021! I’m fine thanks, keeping busy. As many of you know, I love travelling, it’s my passion and as soon as the UK government allow us to start flying again I plan to head to Greece to see my beloved. I also want to go and visit many more wonderful and fascinating countries, like Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, the Solomon Islands, etc. However, at present, the world is still in Covid crisis. What is happening in India is shocking and sad. I’m not sure what the governments of other nations, like the UK, the USA and the European Union are doing to help, but something needs to be done, and quickly. It’s fantastic that the vaccine roll-out is continuing in the UK and at such a pace, but unless every country in the world gets vaccinated, the virus will continue to be a threat and disrupt our way of life. The rich countries need to support and help the poorer nations. It’s easy to say we should help ourselves first, but if we don’t vaccine the entire world and encourage people in countries that lack the education and medical infrastructures, the world will become a poorer place and global travel will be somewhat limited. Sorry to send a negative message. I simply want people to be aware and think of those who are living in more difficult countries and situations.
On a lighter note, see below for two links to a recent podcast chat I did with two fellow blind and partially deaf friends, Jamie and John. Enjoy the chat. Stay safe and have a wonderful, productive week, Tony :). Author of travel eBook: Seeing a Slice of Southern Africa My Way.
Website: www.tonythetraveller.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/theblindbackpacker YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/TonyGilesTraveller
New Year Notice
Deer travellers and followers. Happy New Year. I hope this finds you all well and you had a nice and/or productive Xmas. I’m fine thanks, keeping busy! Please find below a link to a podcast I participated in just before Xmas 2020 alongside 5 other travellers. The idea being, six questions to six people from six continents. I represented Europe! The interviewer was Tony Lloyd from El Cafecito Restaurant Bar Hostel in Ecuador – a traveller, hostel owner and travel podcast host. The subject was: Holiday Special in conjunction with a radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Check it out here:
podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/el-cafecito-travel-talks/id1507145709?uo=4 #40 Mike FM Holiday Travel Special 1 of 2
If that doesn’t work, it’s also available on Google Podcasts: podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5idXp6c3Byb3V0LmNvbS84Nzc2NjMucnNz
This is the link to the Spanish page of the podcast. The interviews are in English, but website is in Spanish. podcasts.apple.com/ec/podcast/el-cafecito-travel-talks/id1507145709#episodeGuid=Buzzsprout-7074928
My new travel eBook: Seeing a Slice of Southern Africa My Way should be out on all eBook websites any day now. Stay safe, have a wonderful day and week, cheers, Tony 😊. Hoping for more travel adventures this year 😊.