Adventures of a vintage tearoom

In reality I try to be a 'normal' teenager (whatever that actually is) and last weekend was no exception, so off I went to a vintage tearoom with a friend. I had never been to this little cafe before but from pictures it looked so adorable, and I wasn't going to turn down the opportunity to get a good coffee any time soon. However, when I am involved things never seem to go plan, because that would be far too simple wouldn't it!? I've always said, unless you use a wheelchair, or are with someone who uses one then you won't realise how inaccessible this world actually is. You won't realise that the vast majority of pavements are on a slant (check next time you are out), which makes pushing yourself very tricky. Or how random little steps can cause such issues, now don't even get me started on cobbles! 

For this particular outing we got the train to where we needed to be, surely this wouldn't be a problem, they have ramps and it is a public place- I honestly didn't give it much thought. When on the train I had the normal negotiation with mothers and their pushchairs, some people who are more than happy to move and others who point blank refuse to move (despite wheelchair users having priority of this space). My friend and I spoke about the cafe we were going to, attempting to plan the walk ahead as well as how excited we both were. As students we will do anything to get away from assignments, we all need a break now and then! Coming off the train was not a problem, the ramp was put up and off we went...

Stranger: "Would you like a hand down the few steps to get out of the station?"
Me: "No, no it's fine- we will manage" (thinking he means one or two steps which can be negotiated)
Stranger: "Honestly I don't mind, look I'll come with you"
Me: "Ermm.... okay.... thanks" 
Stranger: *Quickly walks to the exit*

When people say 'a few steps' I imagine two or three which can be done in a chair if you have someone behind you, these kind of steps may be annoying but cannot be avoided 90% of the time. However, when we approached these steps even my friend seemed a little nervous. A long and narrow staircase was right in front of us both, with the added slippery surface of rain and wet leaves. Recently I have lost some mobility from a fall, but even on a good day this flight of stairs would have been daunting! This stranger was adamant that he would carry me down, as embarrassing as that is, it really didn't look like I had another option if we were going to get to this vintage tearoom. Not only did he pick me up, he picked me up bridal style (probably the best option considering I was wearing a dress!) and proceeded to quite happily walk down the stairs. My friend and PA followed behind and kindly carried my chair. I know I will probably never see that man again but I would like to thank him for his time and kindness- he obviously understood the importance of a good coffee...

We joked about this for the rest of the day, it isn't a common occurrence to get carried down a flight of stairs is it! Saying how we should hire him for future trips to this train station, or how it was like a scene from a film. On the other hand, this particular station happens to be the place where most students move to in their second year at university. Why have ramps on your trains, say you are accessible, yet have a massive flight of stairs to get out of the station? Surely it would put me at a disadvantage to move away from new found friends and be further away from the university that I attend? I am pretty sure I won't be the only wheelchair user who has found that particular staircase a barrier to access something that I am perfectly entitled to do. I will be getting in contact with the station to see if there is any possibility that anything can be put in place between now and next September so that it is possible for me to move over there, until then I might have to stick to tearooms that are closer to campus!

For those of you who are still intrigued about the tearoom- it was amazing! Very, very cute and lived up to the expectation. I had a chocolate cupcake and a gingerbread mocha, after a very busy week it was most certainly deserved!

~ Chloe x

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