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March 5, 2015
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A Small Step For Man Can Be A Huge Step With A Disability – A Tale of Two Pubs

I’ve been to two pub/restaurants recently that according to their staff were accessible. They were, to a certain extent but there’s always something they omit to tell you and it’s not because they’re forgetful it’s just that unless you’ve ‘walked a mile in my shoes’ (not a good metaphor when you’re in a wheelchair) you’re not going to know the difference between a small step and an insurmountable obstacle.

So what was the problem?…

The Princess Victoria in Uxbridge Road, West London is an old Victorian pub that’s transformed it’s back room into a beautiful dining room. High ceilings, plenty of room and interesting art on the walls. The food is way too good to be pub food and there is a disabled toilet.  The journey to the dining room is through the crowded bar and it’s all flat with parquet flooring/floorboards and there’s a lot of tables and chairs to manoeuvre around. It’s lively but you can still hear each other speak. We had a great lunch there and loved the quails eggs with celery salt to start followed by some cod in a beautifully light sauce/broth with samphire. However, getting into the pub is a problem as there’s a large step (well it was for me), at the front and a heavy door with a lip to negotiate. A ramp would help and there’s plenty of room for one. I’m also not sure if you could enter through the Herb Garden at the rear which may be an easier approach but as it wasn’t mentioned in the usual pre-visit phone call, so I assume not. Despite the one problem they still get 2.5 BBS Ticks.

The Princess Victoria, Lovely Old Fashioned Pub, Great Food But The Step at the Entrance Needs a Ramp

The Princess Victoria, Lovely Old Fashioned Pub, Great Food But The Step at the Entrance Needs a Ramp

The next place was The Tommy Tucker in Fulham. A very chilled bar at lunchtime with good music and food but a huge and shallow step at the entrance. So getting in was a bit hairy for my helpful taxi driver.

The Tommy Tucker, Good Chilled Bar But Access Can be Hairy...

The Tommy Tucker, Good Chilled Bar But Access Can be Hairy…

Another issue was the disabled toilet that qualifies as a ‘Ludicrous Lo0′ (click here for a definition) - oh yes, it doubles as a storage cupboard. Embarassing when you have to ask them to make room before you ‘go’. None of this was described when I asked about access but none of the inconvenience diminished what was a lovely lunch. They only get 2 BBS Ticks as it’s worth a visit if you don’t mind sharing the Loo ………..

Ludicrous Loo? How do You Get to the Washbasin??

Ludicrous Loo? How do You Get to the Washbasin??

So what’s to be learnt – Inform staff of accessibility issues and get a BBS PAD, Pictorial Access Description. They really do help, both guests and staff.

BBS PAD Can be Seen on South Place Hotel Website

BBS PAD Can be Seen on South Place Hotel Website

 

 

ian dury

March 3, 2015
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Magnificent Musicians Who Didn’t Let Their Disability Stop Them Achieving Amazing Things!

There have been many musicians past and present who have varying degrees of disability, for example Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles were both visually impaired and they didn’t let their disabilities stop them, they still travelled the world and sang to huge crowds of people – Stevie Wonder is now 64 and he’s still touring and making fantastic music.

Ray Charles

Ray Charles

Although both Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles were very young when they lost their sight, some musicians have become less able later in life. The best example of this would probably be Beethoven – one of the best-known classical musicians, he gradually started losing his hearing around the age of 26 (its estimated). Determined not to let this stop him he too found ways to carry on doing what he loved, he would place a rod from his piano to his mouth and bite it. He learnt to play music by feeling the vibrations! I mean, how smart is that!?

Just before Christmas Channel 4 were promoting ‘Born Risky’, which was a feature about Viktoria Modesta, who they named the first ‘Bionic pop artist’. In the video she made with Channel 4, she sang her song “Prototype” in which you see her walking and dancing with various futuristic prosthetics; diamonds, lights and even one, which was a cone shape. Although the music may not be to your taste at the end there is a great scene where she wears this pointed prosthetic leg and dances.  The Alternative Limb Project designed and created all the prosthetics in the video (we’ve mentioned them before, click here for more information).

Viktoria Modesta On Point

Viktoria Modesta On Point

Other musicians with disabilities are Rick Allen, the drummer from Whitesnake who lost his arm in a car crash. Another musician is Ian Dury who caught Polio as a child and had problems with mobility for the rest of his life. Melody Gardot, is a young American musician who actually got into music after being hit by a car when she was cycling. She had to learn to walk again and music therapy helped her regain her short-term memory and it just so happens that she has a gorgeous voice.

Some great examples of perseverance in the face of adversity. Something we’re hoping to support with our forthcoming concert BBS “MIX”. More of that to come but reserve the 14th April!?!

Elvis breakfast

March 1, 2015
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The Lockhart – Great Southern States Food And A new Take on a ‘Ludicrous (Disabled) Loo’.

The Musical Lieutenant and her brother chose The Lockhart as the ‘new place’ I should visit especially as it had ‘fried chicken’. Located in Seymour Place just behind Marble Arch, It’s American in flavour which seems to be ‘a la mode’ as burger/chicken joints are popping up all over the place. I have no problem with this as they are lifting American cuisine away from KFC and McDonalds…

Brad McDonald the chef at the helm, is Mississippi born and has also worked in New York so his style is “ Brooklyn gastro flair – a refined spin on Southern American cooking.” It’s not necessarily a healthy alternative to the other McDonald, as I ate far too many Grits and I now know how Elvis died from over eating – but it is incredibly tasty and more’ish food.

Elvis Would Have Loved Brad McDonald The Chef at the Lockhart, Serving High Qualty Homemade Food From the Southern States

Elvis Would Have Loved Brad McDonald The Chef at the Lockhart, Serving High Quality Homemade Food From the Southern States

The starters of ‘Devilled crab’, ‘Wedge salad with bacon, chopped egg & buttermilk ranch dressing’ and ‘Crawfish dip with cream cheese & cracklin’ toast’, should have been enough but we then had ‘Fried Chicken’, ‘Smoked pork belly, braised cabbage, BBQ reduction’ and ‘Shrimp & grits’ – I gave up half way through my Shrimp & grits. All very good but the best part was the ‘Buttermilk braised turnips’ – I don’t know how you get so much flavour out of a turnip but it was the best dish along with the ‘Corn bread’ made to order and served on a dish straight from the oven with butter/buttermilk bubbling around it – delicious!

The decor is shabby chic but bright and airy with a silver plated ceiling. Access was good only a small step to get in but there was a ‘mystical air’ to the fully equipped disabled toilet as it was down a spiral staircase – they were told they had to put one in, which is good, but maybe the designer/builder could have been more imaginative and created a space upstairs. The staff are extremely welcoming and made sure I was well looked after and there is nevertheless, a disabled toilet available next door somewhere?? A shame for a restaurant that has definitely tried to accommodate those with disabilities. We give them 2BBS Ticks, could have been 2.5 but for the ‘Ludicrous Loo’ - definitely added to our collection. Anyone got a similar story then send it in??

Old New Restaurant

February 23, 2015
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Top Taiwanese Food With The Relative Lieutenant

The Relative Lieutenant has been in Taiwan recently and has been reporting to us with details on the accessibility at some cool Koahsiung restaurants. We’ve heard before that the general access in Taiwan’s second city puts London and the rest of the UK to shame, so we’re always interested to hear more:

“Old New restaurant in Kaohsiung Taiwan is a stylish venue with disabled access and loos. There’s no menu! Instead, on entering you are asked how much you want to pay and that dictates what is served. Produce that’s fresh that day is used. We had a lovely walnut tree smoked squid with crispy taro strips as the stand out dish. Wine selection is modest but I recommend the local weissbier or a bottle of Taiwan s “Ka Va Lan” whisky instead!! Perhaps not for lunch but Old New restaurant gets 2.5 BBS Ticks.

Old New Restaurant

Old New Restaurant

In Our Time is a funky restaurant. It’s an interesting place as it is in an old warehouse in the Pier2 art district of Kaohsiung. Inside is an art shop, restaurant, music stage an their FM radio station, with DJ. They have a good selection of world beers. They have full disabled access as well. I particularly took note of their slanted mirror in loo – nice to see someone think about the little details like that. It’s just a great and stylish place to chill and the art exhibits outside really add to it. Again, it gets 2.5 BBS Ticks”

Ain't no party like a BBS party

February 20, 2015
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Join The Blue Badge Style Bar Crawl Through London On March 3rd!

The wheelchairs are coming out in force for as we go London crawling  - will the city’s bars know what’s hit them?

To celebrate International Wheelchair Day, on the 3rd of March, we’re going to be checking out some of the City’s coolest bars that say they’re accessible and we want to invite you all to join us. The plan is to get together a load of wheelchair users, people with other disabilities and able bodied friends too, to check out a variety of bars in one wild night.

Ain't no party like a BBS party

Ain’t no party like a BBS party

We want to get the BBS community of the discerning less abled out en masse for a riotous good time. Laughter is guaranteed, heavy drinking is a strong possibility and one or two examples of poor accessibility are always likely to occur. We’re really looking forward to meeting up with old friends and new – we’ve already confirmed that some pretty awesome wheelchair using guests are coming – and we want as many people with disabilities to join is as possible.

bunny

Where’s the next bar?

We expect there to be some inconveniences during the event as we roll from one bar to the next but we want to show that with a little ‘wheelpower’ and good humour, London’s less accessible characteristics can be overcome. We think it will be a really great statement if we can get together a big group of like minded people and show as many disabled people going out on the town together (with their able bodied friends) as possible. There are so many stylish wheelchair users out there but they’re so under represented (see from the picture above – we could find a picture of bunnies on a bar crawl, but not one of disabled people doing the same) so we’re bringing along a camera to document the good, the bad and the stylish of the crawl. We’re sure the evening going to be an absolute blast!

Please come and join us (but do rsvp [email protected] so we get an idea of numbers – we believe that bars should be accessible but it might be friendly to warn them if a stampede of wheelchairs is coming). We’re going to be starting South Place Hotel at 6pm but if you want to join later get in touch and we can give you details of the route.

We’ll be back with more details nearer the time and hope to see as many people as possible on March 3rd. Until then, just remember to keeeeep rollin’!