March 27, 2015

Festivals if 2015 – The Disabled Access & The Line Up!

Summer is not too far away now and with that in mind then it’s about time you started thinking about which festivals you’d like to go too. So we’ve gathered some information about the headliners at the biggest festivals and also looked into their disabled access! Let us know if you have any further information on the access at this years festivals whether they are on our list or not, all information is good!


Isle of Wight - 13-16th June

Line Up: The Black Keys, Fleetwood Mac, The Prodigy, Pharrell Williams, Paolo Nutini, You, Me At 6, Jessica Ware, The Struts.

It’s a  big year at the Isle of Wight this year with Fleetwood Mac playing. One of the nice things about the Isle of  Wight festival is the diverse music that they have and there are usually people of all ages there – festivals aren’t just for the youth! Pharrell and The Prodigy will definitely be some of the highlights of the weekend! A good eclectic mix of musicians playing.

Isle of Wight 2015

Isle of Wight 2015

Accessibility: The website says that you should call Ticketmaster to order a Disabled Access ticket and book one for a carer (if needed). There is a designated campsite that has parking nearby, accessible loos and showers. The Site is generally flat and easy tog et around but during bad weather this can become complicated.


Download – 12-14th June

Line Up: Slipknot, Muse, Kiss, Faith No More, Billy Idol, Marylin Manson, Thunder, Black Stone Cherry.

Download festival is always for the rock lovers! If you’re into noisy/rock/screamo music then this is no doubt the festival for you. Slipknot and Muse should be brilliant (I’ve heard good things about Muse in particular).



Accessibility: Download takes place in Donnington Park (where Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire meet). It is a Greenfield site with ‘steep stony hilly sections’ meaning that access to the site isn’t very easy and is harder during bad weather conditions. There is a disabled customer campsite for those who are unable to camp on the standard campsites; laid down tracks to make getting around easier and you can park next to your tent, there are also lockers for storing small valuables or/and medication. There is also a ‘High Dependency Unit’ with raised beds and hoists but you would have to take your own slings.  More information on the website.


Glastonbury - 24- 28th June

Line Up:  Foo Fighters, Kanye West, Lionel Richie

So far that’s all the information available on the the official Glastonbury page… There is currently a petition to stop Kanye West playing at Glastonbury (we’ll update this when we know more).


Accessibility: Around the site they do have metal tracks laid down making getting around easier however there are still a lot of grassy areas and this can make it difficult especially in bad weather. They have a disabled access campsite that has stewards on hand 24/7 if you need assistance. The campsite has wheelchair accessible showers and there are accessible toilets throughout the arena. Also in the arena they have a viewing platform but to use it you need a ticket. The website tells you how to acquire one of these tickets.


Calling Festival - 4th July

Line Up: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Ryan Adams and The Shining, The Hives, Echo and The Bunnymen.

A one day affair at the Calling Festival… I just hope it doesn’t rain! Because it looks like it’s going to be a fabulous day, this is a great choice of festival if you can’t face three days in a tent – I do often wonder why festivals are so loved… Anyway, no need to camp for this one! just turn up and leave when you’re ready. Noel Gallagher… should be great!



Accessibility: The festival is taking place in an outside space, although the ground is generally flat and there are tarmac paths to help get you around. There are some disabled parking spaces available, you should book these in advance, there are also various buses and trains you can get to and from Clapham Common. For more information about facilities of the hearing impaired and the availability for charging wheelchairs, click here.

LoveBox – 17-18th July

Line-up:  Rudimental, Snoop Dog, Cypress Hill, Acid Mondays, Annie Man, Little Dragon, Mark Ronson (DJ Set), Groove Armada (DJ Set)

Looks lively, sounds upbeat and it’s only two day! This festival is going to be fresh and fun with some classic music and more modern stuff that is potentially going to be classic in 20 years time! Definitely worth the trip (Rudimental are brilliant love, really engaging).


Snoop Dog!

Snoop Dog!

Accessibility: Lovebox is at an open-air site even if some of the area is covered by marquees it is dominantly an open space. There are some tarmac paths to help you get around the area. these paths will help you to and from the disabled car parking area. they do strongly advise giving coming to the festival a lot of thought as the weather is unpredictable and can cause problems.

Green Man - 20-23rd August

Line Up: Super Furry Animals, St Vincent, Hot Chip, Television, Public Service Broadcasting, White Fence, Songhoy Blues.

Although I’m not overly familiar with any of these groups the songs I listened to on YouTube were pretty decent. One of the great things about Green Man festival is that there’s a lot more than just music going, there are various other things to do, the aim of the festival is to link  the ‘creative process with the commercial interface’. They are really family friendly so if you have children they will have as good a time at you!

Green Man Festival

Green Man Festival

Accessibility: Most of the ground is grass and when wet this can become incredibly muddy and make getting around increasingly difficult. There are some tarmac roads but it’s not possible to completely avoid grassy areas. There is a disabled access drop off point in the car park, where stewards will be able to help you. They have an accessible camping area which is 5 minutes from the main stage and very close to a tarmac road – here they have accessible toilets and showers and electrical points for charging equipment where needed. Green Man does recommend reading all the information on their website before booking a ticket.


V Festival – 17-18th August

Line Up:  Calvin Harris, Stereophonics, Kasabian, Paloma Faith, George Ezra, Sam Smith, Clean Bandit, Kodaline, Duke Dumont


Look at that line up! Is there really anything else that needs to be said?!


Paloma Faith

Paloma Faith

Accessibility: There are two sites Hyland Park which is in Chelmsford, Essex and Weston Park just outside central Birmingham. On both sites there are disabled toilets and showers; Weston Park has a slight incline on a concrete pathway and is a fair distance to the arena, Hyland Park is next to the arena and has a grass path joining the two. They are facilities for charging wheelchairs and one carer can get a free ticket. More information is available on the website. 


Reading – 23-25th August

Line Up: Mumford and Sons, Metallica, The Libertines, Bastille, The Cribs, Kendrick Lamar, All Time Low, Limp Bizkit.

In true Reading style they’ve wheeled out an old school bad who is loved by people of all ages, Metallica! Reading looks like fun this year, lots of talented people playing and lots of stages to explore – you’ll definitely come back listening to a band you didn’t know before you went and they’ll be you’re new favourites!


Accessibility: They have a disabled access campsite and viewing platforms at all stages; you will need a Disabled Access Ticket to be able to use these. They have adapted toilets nearby and you can be accompanied by a carer. The ground is generally uneven and is grassy although they do put down metal walk-ways.


Are you going to a festival this year that we haven’t written about? Why not review it for us and send it to us when you get back!

The Exec Flamingo Crutch Makes a Cool Statement Covered In Leather

March 26, 2015

Further Update – Trendy Stick Guide – The Ergonomic & The Stylish Walking Aids

Update March 26 March 2015: Just heard from designer of Fulcrum Crutch and this was a design project and will never be made unless someone finds some money! Also been told about Top and Derby canes. Made in Canada they don’t ship to the UK yet. The key features are

“The handle has a distinct upturned nose which is comfortable to hold and intuitively positions the hand directly over the wood shaft. This unique detail also allows the cane to rest against a wall effortlessly for quick access; it can be propped up on its nose or side, without the cane slipping or falling…”

They look great and are not too expensive at $129

Non Slip Canes - Genius

Non Slip Canes – Genius

Three Colours Available ..Lights-out Black, Crybaby Blue, and On-the-vine Red.

Three Colours Available ..Lights-out Black, Crybaby Blue, and On-the-vine Red.

Let’s hope they supply Europe soon??!


It can be very difficult to find walking aids that look stylish and are individual; there’s no reason why crutches and walking sticks have to be grey or some other dull colour. The generic walking aids haven’t changed very much over the years but there are companies out there making big changes. We’ve updated our previous research and here are the results:

An old favourite are the Ossenberg crutches sold through The German Crutch Company. They have a selection of different colours to choose from as well as the option to have different cuffs and grips meaning that the crutch is hopefully more comfortable. The cheapest one is £57.95 for a pair and £30 for just one. The blackberry is the most popular colour, image is below.

Blackberry Crutch

The Popular Blackberry Crutch

Ossenberg also sell a very chic plain black, carbon fibre, folding walking stick which could come in very handy, especially when travelling. Similarly, designed2enable have a foldable walking cane which is funky if you like orange, called a FlexyFoot’ folding cane. The bottom of the walking stick bends so that it’s flat against the surface you are walking on therefore making it more stable (see the video below).

Very Cool Flexyfoot Cane

Very Cool Flexyfoot Cane

Want a fashionable walking cane? The classic has got to be from the Sabi collection, their Classic Cane are ‘ the perfect walking cane and fashion accessory in one’ (we’ll be the judge of that!). The handle is made from Birch wood (the same as skateboards) and comes in red, purple, blue and black with a wide curved handle that should put less pressure on your hand. They also have a replaceable rubber base if it should start to wear.

You can also get more lightweight canes from Sabi called, ‘Roam Sport Canes’ again these come is three colours, have curved handles but they are made from high strength aluminium, ‘durable and powder-painted, just like a bike, it offers a much more stable alternative to the adjustable walking cane.’

Sabi canes are again sold through designed2enable and the starting price for the classic canes are £61 and the lightweight £31 – they all come in three different sizes and the size chart is available on the website. There is a premium cane which is £79 is ‘a must have accessory for any stylish lady or gentleman’.


Sabi Classic Cane

If you are looking something that is a bit louder and more vibrant then maybe cool crutches and glam sticks are the places you need to be looking. At Cool Crutches you can get leopard print, union jack designs and even polka dot ones, or you could always just get a single colour on your crutch with no pattern. They also have the option to customise your own crutch – that could be good!?

As for Glam Sticks, they offer crutches and canes, foldable and non-foldable and most of the sticks they design are sparkly whether it’s a few lines or the entire stick that’s covered, either way if it’s bling you’re looking for then look no further! They also customise the Ossenberg crutches as mentioned above.

The cost of a glam sticks varies depending on type of stick and obviously the amount of bling you want! Basic cane is around £30 and if you want Swarovski crystals then you’re looking a fair amount more than that…


Multi-Coloured Glam Stick!


If your priority is comfort then maybe Mobilegs are best for you! Mobilegs are an American company, which have ergonomically re-designed a crutch so it is more comfortable and stable. Unlike some of the other crutches featured in this article, although they have altered the way the crutch looks the main priority was elsewhere, they still look very cool though!

Trendy Mobileg Crutch

Trendy Mobileg Crutch

Having said that they do have ‘Skins’ available from their website to change the colour, if you so wish.

We also reviewed some futuristic & creative designs in a previous article, some of which are highlighted here:

Another crutch designed for  comfort is The Fulcrum Modern Crutch Design and it is more attractive than usual crutch designs. It looks good and gives more support, comfort and manoeuvrability than most crutches, this crutch can also be turned into a simple walking cane too…Unfortunately this is too futuristic as it’s not in production as yet. We’re waiting to hear from the designer Arman Kirim. We assume this is him modelling the crutch..

Fulcrum Modern Crutch by Arman kirim - Everything You Need In One Piece. Let's Hope He Makes It???

Fulcrum Modern Crutch by Arman kirim – Everything You Need In One Piece. Let’s Hope He Makes It???

If you have the money the Manko Crutch is a beautiful and distinctive crutch. Designed to alleviate the pain that often comes with using crutches by using memory foam under the arm and on the hand grip of the crutch, this, along with the spring for suspension, means it makes walking much more comfortable. All of this combined with its wooden appearance makes for a very chic and comfortable crutch. Designed by David Batho, a Hungarian living in Boston, these appear to be individually commissioned pieces.

The Manko Crutch Designed to be Comfortable & Aesthetically Pleasing - Nirvana!

The Manko Crutch Designed to be Comfortable & Aesthetically Pleasing – Nirvana!

Another walking aid that is a work of art and is individually commissioned is the ‘By a Thread’ Cane, by Dominic Wilcox. Each cane is covered in cotton thread to produce a stunning result.

Multi Coloured Canes Threaded By Dominic Wilcox

Multi Coloured Canes Threaded By Dominic Wilcox

Another in the futuristic soon to be produced range of crutches, is the Flamingo Crutch, created by Turkish designer Can Guvenir we are still waiting to see if this is produced any time soon. We hope so as this got a lot of positive responses from our readers.

Flamingo Crutch - Stylish But Manufacture is Elusive

Flamingo Crutch – Stylish But Manufacture is Elusive

The Exec Flamingo Crutch Makes a Cool Statement Covered In Leather

The Exec Flamingo Crutch Makes a Cool Statement Covered In Leather


We finish with QED Crutches a funky one piece design from Germany. They’re vibrant and fun with a beautiful curved form that can be stacked easily. The big problem is that being made of one fluid piece comes with a lack of adjust-ability – not great for basketball players or jockeys then. Again we’re waiting to hear when you can buy them but they do appear to be in production.

If you can recommend any stylish crutches/canes that we missed out please do let us know!


March 26, 2015

Fiona Jarvis Interview By NAIDEX – The State of the Disability Equipment Market

I was interviewed by NAIDEX a few weeks ago regarding the disability equipment market. I was in a slightly belligerent mood….Let us know if you agree or disagree with my views???


Fiona Jarvis

Hear about the inspiration behind Fiona Jarvis’ latest venture, and how she has never let her disability stand in the way of her style.

Fiona Jarvis is an inspiration. She has lived and worked in London for 30 years, much of which she spent focusing on her career as a sales manager for various software companies selling multi-million pound systems to the financial sector. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis after falling off her high heels in a bar once too often, and has become progressively disabled over a 25 year period. Now a wheel chair user, she passionately believes that style and disability should co-exist – a vision that inspired her to found her new venture, Blue Badge Style.

How did you come to set up Blue Badge Style?

For 25+ years I worked for various large software companies. Operating mainly in the Finance sector selling multi-million pound systems. However, due to progressive disability I became adept in finding ‘cool’ places to go with clients, places that held no surprises regarding accessibility & facilities. There was nowhere to find this information and no one site for anything to do with disability and style. I realised that there must be other people with the same needs so I collated this knowledge into a Website and more latterly a Mobile App – Blue Badge Style.

Can you describe the work that you do with Blue Badge Style?

The Blue Badge Style website is the first “one stop shop” for the less able, their friends and family, that gives accurate information on stylish places to go, things to do and products to buy. The App & Site are a‘Vogue/Michelin Guide for the Less Able’ detailing everywhere that a stylish person would want to go and spend money. The accreditation of‘As Recommended By Blue Badge Style’, is intended to be a sought after mark of quality.

What are the main achievements of the business that you are most proud of?

Following on from the idea that we provide accurate information on places to go we developed PADs (Pictorial Access Descriptions) that are similar to access statements but they follow the journey of a disabled ‘customer’ (rather than an inconvenient health & safety issue) through a venue and comply with the ‘anticipatory’ element of the Equality Act. They are an online ‘access brochure’ welcoming customers rather than a cold compliance statement. They are hosted by BBS with a link to the venue site via the Blue Badge Style icon. They are applicable to any public building and in particular hospitality venues. They tell you what to expect facilities and/or potential obstacles. We won a prize for our efforts in October 2014, for Social Innovation from the European Investment Bank – our greatest achievement to date along with a presentation we gave to the Houses of Parliament regarding our PADs.

Without giving too much away, can you give us a preview of what you will be speaking about at Naidex this year?

I’ll be talking about the state of the equipment market and how this lead to our taking things into our own hands! We will also be talking about the shopping experience for people with disabilities based on research we did within the BBS community.

What would you like to see retailers in the mobility and rehabilitation industry do more of?

I’d like to see more fashionable and stylish designs. This doesn’t just mean just making things in different ‘loud’ colours. I want my wheelchair to be a statement about me just as my Mercedes soft-top did, when I could drive! I want shoes that fit and are ‘on trend’ I used to buy a pair every season. Now I’m lucky if I buy a new pair once a year. Being semi house bound means I have to look at the equipment all day so mostly it’s hidden away in a room where it’s rarely used.

What do you think have been the most important changes in the healthcare industry in recent years?

The fact you can add to the cost of a prescription and buy the equipment you think looks and suits you best. I’d like to see more devolved powers of choice going to the patient. I don’t need to be told I can’t use something if it’s not NHS approved. I’m the patient/customer and I know my body best and I know what works for me. I will always take advice but don’t tell me I have to accept the standard issue equipment!

What would you like to see changing in the future in the industry?

All of the above plus I want to see Conran or Phillipe Starck inspired equipment available to buy in my lifetime!!  Manufacturers are so scared of health and safety issues or extra expense that it’s stifling development. There are plenty of people out there who’d pay a premium for stylish equipment. If I were cynical I’d say that too much money is being made from the status quo and that change is not wanted. I also want OT’s to understand that style remains even if your body has given up. Style is the one thing you can still have control over and improves one’s outlook on life. I want the same buzz out of buying an ‘aid’ as I do buying a new handbag!!

Fiona is speaking on the Commerce and Industry stage on Wednesday 29th April.



March 24, 2015

What to See, Where to Go, What to Buy! Art, Food and Fashion!

BBS (1)

What to See

The National Galleries Scotland are showing Roy Lichtenstein’s work from the 13th of March 2015 until 10th of January 2016; so there is plenty of time to go see this collection. The exhibition is going to be shown across three rooms, as part of the ‘REFLECTIONS at Modern One, the display will bring together a newly assembled series of works by Lichtenstein.’ Modern One has a ramp for access at the front of the building and disabled parking at the rear. It’s about 20 metres from the back to the front entrance. The exhibition is at ground level and there are two disabled toilets on the lower level one in the cafe and one just outside. They get a provisional 3 BBS Ticks). On the plus side with the exhibition being in Edinburgh it also makes it a good excuse to go on a city break (search Edinburgh on this website and find places to go and stay, we’ve reviewed loads. The Missoni now a G&V  hotel is the best hotel I’ve stayed in for disabled facilities. We gave them 3 BBS Ticks)…

Lichtenstein, In The Car

Lichtenstein, In The Car

BBS (1)

Where to Go

We recently updated our review of Balthazar in Covent Garden and it turns out they made their disabled toilet fully accessible since our last check so there is absolutely no reason why you can’t get there for some lunch/dinner this summer! The restaurant is based on Keith McNally’s ‘era defining’ New York restaurant of the same name.  There was a mass of hype surrounding the London restaurant when it opened two years ago! There seafood bar is meant to be outstanding. Click here to read out updated review.

The now fully accessible Balthazar!

The now fully accessible Balthazar!

BBS (1)

What to Buy

Something red. Red dresses, Red skirts with white shirts and red capes/blazers/wraps, anything red! The principle is ‘red all over’! This was seen on many catwalks for spring/summer 2015 including Calvin Klein and Versace. So whether you’re daring enough to wear all red, accessorise in red or buy some new red lipstick – it needs to be done this spring/summer and that’s for sure!

The colour of Spring/Summer 2015

The colour of Spring/Summer 2015


2.5 BBS Ticks

March 21, 2015

Balthazar – New York’s Era Defining Restaurant Comes To London

Update on Balthazar March 2015. Visited this lovely restaurant and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful to me and my wheelchair. The access is good from street level and the disabled toilet is upstairs via the lift. No issues with that as it’s not a ‘Ludicrous Loo’.

Disabled Toilet Definitely NOT A 'Ludicrous Loo' - Well Done Balthazar.

Disabled Toilet Definitely NOT A ‘Ludicrous Loo’ – Well Done Balthazar.


Very lively and not so noisy you can’t hear what’s said. Enjoyed the duck shepherds pie and seafood bar is a must – just like the one in New York. However, food is secondary to the good time you can have here!


Seafood Bar at Balthazar Just like New York - Has To Be Tried!!

Seafood Bar at Balthazar Just like New York – Has To Be Tried!!



Balthazar in Covent Garden is an exciting new brasserie based on Keith McNally’s ‘era defining’ New York restaurant of the same name. There was a mass of hype surrounding the London restaurant when it opened last year and, although it hasn’t quite lived up to the massive appeal of its elder brother, it’s definitely still worth visiting.

Like the original, Balthazar London is a faux French brasserie with a slightly American twist. The decor and ambience have received rave reviews, even if the food is a little less outstanding. They serve traditional French food plus some more local extras, like duck shepherd’s pie and pork belly with black pudding hash. It’s certainly high quality but it’s the restaurant’s furnishings rather than food which tend to catch the eye. It’s also a good spot for celeb spotting (although the stars are, well, a little less stellar than in NYC – think Russell Tovey and Nancy Dell’Olio rather than Robert De Niro, Woody Allen and Jay Z).

The new Balthazar is a gorgeous place to spend time with Time Out saying that the London restaurant “mimics the New York original perfectly, with red awnings, plush red leather banquettes, giant antiqued mirrored walls, beautiful mosaic floors.”  This opinion was echoed in the Independent whose reviewer said: “with its brass-buttoned red leather banquettes, mosaic-tiled floor and enormous foxed mirrors, it’s like the dream version of your favourite restaurant (especially if your favourite restaurant happens to be Balthazar in New York).”

It looks absolutely fabulous and in terms of disabled access, Balthazar is certainly up to scratch. Access from the street is flat and the restaurant is step free for less able customers. They have an adapted toilet on the first floor with a much needed lift to take you up there.

Balthazar is one of London’s hottest restaurants and the access is good too so we give them a provisional 2.5 BBS Ticks.