Bath – Roman history and amazing buildings

Bath

Famous for it Roman baths. Magnificent to say the least but understated for it architecture and history. Bath really is a very special place.

I really fancied a little trip to this fantastic historic town but it has been a while and I find that whenever I seem to go back to a place I always find something new. maybe its because I am getting older and all of a sudden my tastes are changing. Who knows?

Bath Abbey

We visited Bath Abbey and what a place. the pictures just don’t do it credit. Sitting in the pews and looking up at the magnificent stain glass window was just blinding. The shear skill and art that had clearly gone into the making of this monument is just breath taking. Trust me if you are in Bat you need to go and see it and appreciate it magnificence.

The building itself although shadowed by its master window, is something quite amazing as well.  The work and stone masonry that has stood the test of time is a tribute to the the old ways.

a bit of history

Bath Abbey, former Benededictine monastery is part of the Anglican church. First founded in the 7th century it was recognised as Bath Abbey in the 10 century and still know as that today.

There was major restoration work was carried out by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1860s. It is one of the largest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture in the West Country.

It unbelievably seats 1200 people and is still very much used today for ceremonies, concerts and lectures. Its congregation numbers are in the hundreds, and annual visitors to this amazing place reachers numbers in the hundreds of thousands.

The choir also performs in the abbey and if you are lucky enough to witness this, i hear it it is something quiet amazing.

The Town

Everywhere you look you are surrounded by a mix of modern day life and historic buildings. With the street performers entertaining the crowds.

The masses of history wherever you look. There is literally so much to see that neither your brain or concentration can absorb it all in one go.

We stopped for coffee and cake down by the river and for a few hours i could have not imagined being in a more fantastic place.

Cheddar – cliffs rocks and beauty

Cheddar

So the weather is a little drizzling and yet you still need some fresh air. What a better place to go than the quaint and beautiful town of Cheddar.

It been years since I have been and I can honestly say I had forgotten just how beautiful this little town actually is.
The shops are all very unique and quaint. Little craft shops and art shops. The cafe’s here are also very different.

We stopped for a Bite to eat right on the stream. The views were fantastic and the staff where just so friendly. Every window had its own little picture of beauty.

So peaceful

The whole town is very quiet and peaceful, the passing crowds where mainly walkers who had been out and about exploring. All with their walking boot on and back packs. Made me a little jealous that I had not been up in the hills exploring myself. Maybe next time!

I think when I get my little van this may have to be a spot I stop at for a few days and take in the surroundings. Go for a walk or should I say a Jamie style walk.

A bit of history

The Cheddar Yeo is the stream that runs through the town and the water is crystal clear. In fact it makes up some of the feed for the local water supply. Honestly I can see why, cleaned through the rocks and reeds the water is simply amazing.

I was very surprised to find out that it in fact the stream comes down from the Mendip Hills. Part of one of Britain’s biggest underwater river systems fed by the water through the limestone rocks.
The village itself has a long history and was once a very important centre to both the Romans and the Saxons. If you look closely you can still see the signs of long ago pasts.

Cheese

It’s also no surprise that it is a village famous for its cheese but believe it or not the cheese is still made and still matured in the caves around the area.
Cheddar offers a great deal for all ages from the gorge, the hills and right through to the history tour. Something else I will need to do next time.

Literally loved it here, a few hours of peace and tranquillity. And still loads more for me to do on my return. a nice little adventure to add to my blog

Usk – The town of bloom

usk – the town of bloom

It’s strange really when I sit down and think of it. Usk is the town of bloom known to many. It’s won awards for it splendid flower parades. There appears to be a community spirit around the place with the recent “great Usk Bike Off” and everyone is getting involved. But all this is amazing in itself but nothing amazes me more than the fact I have never actually visited this quaint little town before.

I have driven through it loads of times and in fact it is a matter of 20 minutes from my house. Yet, I have never been here and enjoyed all that it has to offer.
It has some very quaint shops.

I went into one shop and it was jammed from floor to ceiling with basic brick ‘N’ brak. It amazed me how he sold anything. Clearly does alright with what he is doing though or he would have closed along time ago. The walk ways where so narrow I could hardly walk up and down.
I did however enjoy the whole concept of the place.

Living up to its name

Usk is very cute and lives up to it’s name of the town in bloom. Everywhere you look there are flowers.
Every garden is beautiful and full of colours. Even the fish and chip shop looks like it should be on the cover of chocolate box.

I visited the museum. What a treat! What a jewel in the crown for USK. In this picturesque town is a cave of history and heritage. The museum is run completely by volunteers.
Housed in an ancient malt barn the Museum has 5000+ exhibits. I was informed that these items had been collected by local enthusiasts over the past 50 years. A true monument to the work of country people in the Welsh Borders. Some of the museum peaces date back to Victorian times. Displays range from the smallest hand-tools and household items through to large agricultural machinery and vintage tractors.

I read on a plaque that the museum portrays rural life in Monmouthshire covering a period of approximately 100 years. As a registered charity and run entirely by volunteers with an addition the museum contains the Usk Visitor Centre with local information and guides together with advice and guidance about the area.
If you do go then this is a must stop location even if it is just to wonder around its history.

Loads to see and do

With a short walk to the castle there is a fair amount to do and see here. I cant believe it’s taken me this long to actually visit this lovely place.
Sadly the castle was closed but I did enjoy a pack of fish and chips in the grounds. Basking under the sun and chilling in my own world of peace and harmony. Definitely need to go back for a second trip and this time hopefully the castle will be open to.

Tintern Adventures

Tintern Abbey

Ever since I was a boy Tintern Abbey has been a popular run out location in the car. Many a picnic or walk along the river with my family. However as strangely as it sounds I have never actually been in side the Abbey itself. It has to be said all these years I have viewed from a far and I have missed out. The d

A little history

The Abbey was first founded in 1131 by Walter Fitz Richard of Clare. Walter Fitz Richard was an Anglo-Norman lord. the Abbey was then later destroyed by Henry the 8th.

My Tintern Abbey EXPERIENCE

The grounds are very special, it is so clear of the history that once surrounded this amazing place. Everywhere you look near the Abbey shows strong connections. There is a scare of time once bustling with life but now stands in ruins.

The structure shadows over you and offer’s a real sense of calm. Looking around it is still almost clear to see the touches of life that once inhabited this mighty structure. You can almost imagine what it would have been like to live here.

Entrance if you are disabled is free for both yourself and your career. I was amazed at how accessible the grounds where as long as you where relatively capable in a wheelchair.  Although I was able to use my crutches on my visit I would have been very happy to have taken my wheelchair.

You could still visualise the kitchens and the rooms off of this area. There was clear signs of the drainage system that once held its own as the most advanced drainage system of its time. If you looked hard enough you could see the last remaining traces of the medieval glass in the windows high up in the abbey’s inner walls. but you have to look hard.

An amazing place and with the right imagination you can happily experience life in  a very different time.

The white monk cafe

Now here is the place to go if you want cosy, reasonable and you are looking for good service. the Staff are all lovely and in fact I think beautiful would be a better description. I enjoyed a bit of banter with them as I was suffering with a hangover but the waitress made me smile and for me that is what counts.

The food was fantastic and the White Monks Hot chocolate was amazing. To be honest the biggest glass of water they had went down rather well in my current state.

The building itself holds some strong connections to the Abbey and there are plenty of features that show this. The mix of tables and chairs gives this cosy little room a real sense of warmth. Very well laid out Space and very welcoming.

The church of st mary the virgin

Up on the hill-side over looking the Abbey is an old church. If you look into the trees you can just see the bell tower. The church was once rebuilt in 1866 but then was destroyed by fire in 1973.

The features of the church still stands tall and proud but the last few years has seen mother nature take back what was once hers. I looked around the yard at some of the most amazing tombs. Standing landmarks from hundreds of years ago. I was very surprised to find graves there as recent as 2015.

This little treasure is very understated. stood high above the beautiful abbey it is hidden in the abbeys massive shadow. I am so glad that I decided to venture up to it. if nothing else the views where also absolutely amazing.

summary of the day

I love spending time out and about with my mother. We are and have always been very close. My Mum has always shown me that honesty is a strong quality but also sometimes life is way to short to spend it stuck in one place.

Day Out In Hay-On-Wye With Mama Mac.

Sundays are for road trips

What are Sundays for? Day trips, family time and maybe lunch out. Today I had all those things. A Day out with my Mother (Mama Mac). Hay-on-wye was our Sunday destination.

Since my Dad passed away in March 2016 life has been very different for my mother. Since my wife left in January this year I have also felt the burden of time on my own. There is nothing like the silence of your own company. Don’t get me wrong I love my own company, but after a while it is deafening. Today my mother and I decided to team up and hit the road. Go and see something different. Have a spot of food and a natter.

Hay-on-wye!

A very quaint country town. Hay-on-wye situated deep in the Welsh hills of Powys. Surrounded be stretched views and engulfed in history. Cute little shops and commonly known as the “town of books”. Hay-on-wye has a lot to offer. I have been here before but for some reason it was like it was my first time. We first hit a lovely little coffee shop called Cafe Hay.  What a lovely little place very clean, well presented and a great cup of coffee. If you go it’s not far from the car park so really hits the spot as a first stop.

Books, Books and Books!

They call Hay-on-wye the “town of books” and I can definitely see why!

Book shops are everywhere but book stalls are on every corner. Little sheds or lean too’s with shelves of books and an honesty box.

Mama Mac who loves a good read had a good nose around those! Most of them was like £1 for a hard back book or 50p for a soft back. So if you are a book-worm and out in the area stop and have a look they are there in mass.

Hay Castle

We stumble across Hay castle by accident. At first we didn’t know what it was. The building is completely run down the grounds are left un-maintained and all in all looking very sorry for itself.

But underneath all that it is a fantastic piece of history that is currently being rebuilt. I don’t really need a reason to come back to this gorgeous little town but the development of Hay Castle is something I am very excited about. I have followed them on FaceBook so will definitely be keeping a close eye on the progress.

Shops

If you are anything like me you will hate shopping! I do however love the little unusual shops that you don’t get on the high street. Hay-on-wye had loads of these little shops selling odd little items that you don’t see every day.

One little shop that absolutely stood out was a place called OtherWorldz. I loved this shop. the layout was so cool. The decor was fantastic and the overall atmosphere was rather magical. The lady that worked there was so sweet and chatty I even forced her to have a selfie with me.

The owner was in the shop next door called Satori. Also a really nice guy.  There was loads of magical stuff in his two shops. Jewellery, Crystals, Incense, Candles and Windchimes. I really want to take my friend Lewis to this shop he will love it.

My final thoughts

This town can be described as cute, as beautiful and very special. From start to finish I kept coming across more and more cool shops and lovely corners. Most of the town is wheelchair accessible however it’s not all easy as there are a lot of hills and several shops have steps. I think this is a common issue with old towns like this but for me I have always understood that it can’t really be helped as most of the properties are listed.

But over all if you are looking for a peaceful place to go  then this has to be one to put on the list.

Muggi – The safest cup holder around

My Muggi Review

How has Muggi made a difference to me?

As a wheelchair user one thing I do struggle with is cups of boiling hot water. Carrying multiple cups at the same time! carrying even one cup and something else, like biscuits is a bit tricky.

For many this simple task is an everyday event but for me it can be an impossible chore. I have attempted to try several ideas. To be honest I have either got to do several trips or ask for help. Hot tea in one hand and the risk of wearing it getting from A to B is normal.

in work

The area I was struggling with was in work. I work as part of a team and we do have a tea rota. The team I work with are fantastic and treat me no different to anyone else. Yes they are well aware of my odd restriction and in fairness never ever raised any comments. If I never made a cup of tea they would understand! for me it was a simple task that I wanted to be involved in!

I have never been beaten by anything and it was frustrating that I couldn’t do it. Recently the company’s health and safety department decided that they would review how cups of boiling water was being carried around the office.

The company purchased  1000 muggi’ and this for me this was an absolute revelation. It meant that I could now take part in the tea run. Ok there is a catch! Due to health and safety in work I am unfortunately not aloud to carry the cups on my lap with tea in them. However I can now carry all the empties to the kitchen! wash them! fill them! however then one of the guys just carries them back to the desks. So much better and very simple.

At home

At home it’s another story. This simple design makes carrying so much easier. No more risk of spilling.  I get a sense of pleasure when I can roll in with the teas. However as I recently discovered it works great with a few beers and also a bottle of wine and two glasses.

I know for many reading this you may ask! How is something so simple as making tea such a big deal? It’s about the simple things that make the difference. This is better than any tray. The cups are secure. There is a lip so nothing can spill and it fits nice and solid on your lap.

This really is a fantastic wheelchair must.  I would love to see how someone with poor grip would benefit I think it’s design would assist in that area two. I think the Muggi has really hit the unintentional mark.

Muggi Specifications

• Muggi is designed and manufactured in the UK from a lightweight but super tough Polypropylene.

• It is available in a range of colours including Blue, Red, Grey, Purple, Green, Pink and recycled Black.

• It securely holds most shapes and sizes of mugs, cups and wine bottles and will catch any unwanted spillages, BUT it also features four non-slip rubber feet, finger and thumb holds!

• Can be produced in virtually any colour for orders over 1000 units.

Dimensions

• Width 200mm

• Depth 200mm

• Height 70mm

• Each cup holder diameter 89mm

Honestly trying it is believing it.

My Honest Smartcrutch Review 

Smartcrutch

I first came across Smartcrutch at Naidex the mobility show in Birmingham.

Instantly impressed by the look and design. Tried them out and really fancied putting them through their paces.

Most people think crutches are simply sticks to help you walk, to be honest you would be right, however! Crutches have come along way in design and practical use over the years.

I have a set from early days that are adjustable NHS issue and they do the job. Except the fact that you clink every time you take a step. I was then issued with a solid every day set. Made to measure! These where great but came with the normal issues that you get for prolonged use. Pressure pains in your wrists mainly.

over looked on everyday crutches

Let’s look at a few of the things that are over looked on everyday crutches. The elbow cuff is normally made of moulded plastic that can be a little rough. Jumpers tend to get snagged and soon ruined by this.

The hand grip is normally also made of hard plastic and anyone who uses them for a period of time will get that red painful palm where you are basically pushing down on the grip.

The rubber feet that you only ever get full floor coverage when the crutches are completely straight, use these on tiled floors like super markets and they can be lethal.

The main point to note

Crutches are really designed for a short period of time. Crutches are not designed to take your full weight. The main idea is to assist with balance not to replace it.

I tend to take most things and turn it on its head. For example a wheelchair, cut off the front end add a 3rd wheel and climb a mountain with it. not its purpose.

When smartcrutch asked me to review their product I assured them that I would push it to the limits.

So whats my verdict

Everyday use they are great. Covering the initial issues every box has been ticked. The elbow support is strong smooth and padded so you don’t get the issue with snagging and most of the support is through the elbow rather than the wrist.

The hand grip is a soft comfortable rubber that has plenty of give. The elbow section adjusts so that you can effectively use them solely with the elbow taking the pressure off your wrist all together.

Even though they are fully adjustable you don’t get the clinking as they are a good fit and well-built.

To me the magic is in the feet. Being flexible they offer a constant platform and grip to the ground so slippery surfaces are not so much of an issue and as a result shopping is a lot easier and I feel much more secure.

The adjustable elbow support means that once they are at a 90 degree you are completely supported through your elbow, not your wrist while your forearm is held firm and secure. This does however take some getting used to.

Now for the best bit

So as always once I had used these for everyday use I wanted to take them out of their comfort zone.

Squash is an active sport and one I enjoy. It keeps me fit and healthy but I used to fall over a lot as the floor is a slippery surface. My normal NHS crutches didn’t offer me a good solid platform to lean into.

The smartcrutch has really improved this area and is a massive assistance on court. The look is stylish , comfort is amazing and overall usability is awesome.

Next was to try them off-road. Here is where these awesome crutches find their slight but not complete weaknesses. On damp grass they don’t really hold well. On loose dusty surface they tend to lose a little grip.

Now here they do shine, on relatively uneven rocky surfaces the flexibility in the feet seemed to work fairly well. The adjustable elbow joint means you can place a lot of your weight through the crutches but only if they grip the ground. I have not yet used them on ice but I fear the result would not be ideal.

few words of IMPROVEMENTS

I really am not going to take anything away from this product the conditions i put them through are not what they are designed for.

In my opinion however it would not be difficult to adapt them to be a fantastic all-rounder. It would be all in the feet!

If I could have one improvement on this product it would have to be the addition of off-road feet. As an adventure lover I am never more alive than when I am off the beaten track and up a mountain.

There is so much potential for the Smartcrutch to be used as off-road with the design of feet that could be used on grass or in mud maybe even snow or better still sand. I think smartcrutch are missing this vital sector.

final few words

These crutches are a fantastic all round product that like everything will suit some more than others. I have definitely pushed them and tested them to the current limits and i am very impressed.

I think that they still have so much more to give and really look forward to the future of this product.

Well done smartcrutch now let’s talk off-road.

www.smartcrutch.com

Do I have to have a custom built wheelchair 

Do I have a custom-built wheelchair

Imagine this as a scenario! You are going about your life as anyone else would and something dramatically changes!

No warning and no time to plan! You end up in hospital! No clue what has happened! You know something is wrong ! But you don’t know what!

For many people going into a chair that is the exact experience. Let’s be honest who sits down and thinks I am just going to keep a few thousand aside in my bank just in case I need to redevelop my life around a disability.

I know I never! If you are reading this chances are you didn’t either. So initial shock has passed and along come the next stage.

Planning
  • What to do now,?
  • what do I need?

It’s all perfectly expected, and a natural fear of the unknown is common. Here in the U.K. We get the privilege of the NHS It is a privilege! Because in many countries this is not the case.

So you now know you need a wheelchair and you need one soon. An absolute need to live the best life possible. Something light enough to manoeuvre around in and don’t forget getting in and out the car.

Your new wheelchair is not just an item that gets you from A to B it is now apart of you. Annoyingly it also becomes your new descriptive characteristic. So yes it’s an important purchase.

Cost
  • So what do they cost?

Well honestly a few grand to be on the safe side. They are custom-built to your needs and everything down to the wheels is an added extra.

  • The big question is do you have to buy new?

Well for me that was not an option! If I had my way I would buy the Carbon Black, it’s amazing, light, sexy and expensive. If I was completely honest I would have struggled to go for a lower end spec chair from Bromkin, RGK or maybe Quickie.

So I turned to the internet and to be exact EBay. I knew my measurements and what I was looking for. The big things you need to know is leg, hip, and seat size.

If you look at chairs that are fully adjustable you will be on a winner. It is a case of spending the time and making sure you are happy. Don’t forget to ask other people what they think. You are not just buying a wheelchair you are buying the one thing you will use everyday and all day so it has to be right.

So you purchase a chair for a fraction of the cost and you may want to just put a personal touch to it! Your options are endless with some new casters that cost a few pound from a skate store or eBay. Kids scooter wheels are normally perfect.

Maybe you want to give a whole new style and refurbish it, look at sites like Pimp my chair they do all sorts from nice straps to complete back and cushion . But at the same time you may not need to do anything and it may be perfect with a few settings adjustments.

This option may also leave you a fund for accessories like the FreeWheel. I purchased a fantastic Kuschall wheelchair that I have had for three years and believe me I have put it through its paces including taking it down flights of stairs.

I have upgraded the wheels to spinergy, replaced the casters and lowered the back rest but initially all I done was tweak the settings to fit.

By going second-hand I saved an absolute fortune and would recommend you shop around before shelling out loads of cash if you can’t afford to. Since then I have now purchased a second chair that I used just around the house, again cheap and cheerful but does the job.

I know for many the importance of a custom fitted chair is unquestionably vital but for some it is just not in the budget and it’s those people like me that find the journey the biggest struggle.