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Archive for the ‘Mountains’ Category

Only those of you forced to use disabled toilets will really understand and appreciate the importance of a good, clean disabled toilet. Often we are faced with something more like a dumping ground for overflow cleaning equipment and other junk, a really smelly baby changing facility or simply so filthy you worry about catching something horrific  and lingering. 

Every good and great disabled toilet needs to be applauded and today it is the beautiful, clean and generally lovely ablutions provided at The Lakes Distillery in The Lake District in Cumbria. This is a very new Distillery and the only one in England. I can absolutely highly recommend this as a trip out – not just for the loo’s!


5* for cleanliness, design (you can actually turn your wheelchair around) and smell. 

Thank you 😊 

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….eat chocolate – LOTS of chocolate!

Our second day in Switzerland was dedicated to more eating – this time of the sweet variety.  Switzerland started the eating chocolate craze and continue it in style to this day.

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We were on the doorstep of the oldest chocolate factory in Bros – the Cailler chocolate paradise.  We absolutely had to go on the tour, and it was one of the best tour experiences we have ever been on.  It was a bit like a theme park through the history, the manufacture and then the tasting of chocolate – WOW!

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You get to try all sorts of chocolates and as long as you don’t take any out of the factory tour, you can eat as much as you like…

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…and I for one definitely had my fill – hubby on the other hand had to be dragged away with the promise of a cup of coffee in the restaurant.  They obviously specialise in great hot chocolate, but by this point I had admitted chocolate defeat and settled for a Latte and an amazing Frappelatte…

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Now fully sweetened up, we went for a wonderful drive down to Lake Geneva and the town of Montreux – made famous by Deep Purple’s, ‘Smoke on the water’ – or so, hubby informed me because although I had been singing it for years, I had not made this association.

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The drive back was a bit of a hair-raising affair as we traversed rather high mountains in search of the more scenic route!  Boy, we certainly got that in buckets….and did I forget to mention that we encountered MORE vineyards? They are following us around on this holiday 🙂

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Wow, the skills of these tree fella’s (get it….tree fellers?, oh never mind!)…DSCN6578 DSCN6585

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At the outset I need to clarify that I believe our families are genetically pre-disposed to being adventurous. After all, my hubbies family were part of the original Europeans to immigrate to South Africa back in the 1600’s and believe me they had to be tough to survive travelling around with 16 oxen pulling them and all their possessions in what amounted to a box on wheels for thousands of miles! Also, my brother in law lives in a country that is very familiar with ice hole fishing, dog sledding and no daylight all winter! Yes, they are a tough breed and I was going to need all the help I could get to conquer Johnson Canyon. Don’t they say ignorance is bliss? So with only a slight worry tapping a tune in the back of my brain, one large Canadian, one large South African and one slightly smaller lady in battered wheelchair set off to achieve another milestone on our quest to overcome as much as we could in the time we had been allotted. How hard could it be? I suppose the clue really was that no other wheelchair or disabled hikers passed us on the entire trail and those people with babies had them in their arms or on their backs! The other thing was the well meaning glances we got from those returning along the path from the top of the falls.

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Let me just say at this point that we at least had enough sense to agree that the first set of falls was enough of a challenge for 2 unfit blokes, 1 unfit woman and a wheelchair!

Decision made, and off we set, heading up the nice path indicated on the map… this is easy! Round the bend and up an incline… okay, maybe a bit more challenging than it looked at first glance. Luckily we had wonderful dry weather because I don’t think we would have got too far in rain or snow. The path was well maintained for the tourists and for the most part it was fine (for walkers, not wheelers). It was the trees that suddenly appeared in our path that raised a few worried brows; so we took these opportunities to rest, recover and reconnoitre! I can tell you with all honesty that without the two burly blokes with me, there is NO WAY I would have got near the top, and I would have had to be air-lifted out! They manfully each grasped a handlebar and pushed, heaved, shoved and occasionally lifted me over the worst bits – I cannot remember how many times I asked “are you sure we shouldn’t turn back?” But, hardy stock that they are, we forged ever further up, up and onwards. The views were superb and we used this as an excuse to stop often and admire the scenery. When we eventually got to the first set of waterfalls, it was all worth it; for me anyway! Did I say thank you enough to my brave companions? If not, a BIG, BIG THANK YOU for giving me this amazing memory.   So, in short, this is NOT for the faint hearted, but then again faint heart never won fair mountain (ha ha, you get it?).

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It was around this time that my husband and I realised that a normal wheelchair was just not going to do the job for us! And, as an aside, maybe we could all loose a pound or two and get fit….

Now, can anyone tell us an easy way down this mountain?…..

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I thought I should share a few of my pre-K-2 adventures to demonstrate how much we needed a more rugged wheelchair. Picture this – newish wheelchair user, cheap wheelchair bought off the internet, first trip to Canada. Anyway, we had conquered Sulphur Mountain and needed to move onto bigger and better things – and believe me, there are plenty of bigger, better things at every turn in the Rocky Mountains. Next stop – Lake Louise. How many times have I said “amazing” and “incredible”? Oh well, what are a few more superlatives between friends! Wow, it is truly magnificent and the calmness of the water beautifully reflects the harshness of the mountains and the immense glaciers in the peaks. If I had been able to, I would have pulled up a comfy deck chair and parked myself on the shores with a book and not budged until the weather moved me on.

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We only had a few days so time was our greatest enemy and prodded us onwards. Our next stop – Johnson Canyon and the ultimate trial for the bruised and battered old wheels!

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We spent a wonderful week with our family in and around Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, then it was time to pack up and head for the mountains. When we flew into Calgary the Rockies were just a mountain range painted beautiful purples and blues in the distance. Having grown up in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa I love mountains and could not wait to get there and start exploring – but before that we had a 10 hour drive ahead of us through some extremely flat countryside covered in more wheat and sunflowers than I could ever have imagined. Over into the next province, Alberta supplied the occasional dip in the landscape in the form of a ravine where Drumheller is situated. This amazing town (which may feature in a future episode) is world renowned for its dinosaur finds and superb museum – only time for a quick lunch break before setting off again – we really wanted to reach our apartment in Canmore before nightfall. Tired and travel weary we arrived and settled into our apartment. After a well deserved rest we were fresh for our first trip into the Banff National Park. I could not have dreamed how beautiful this place was going to be and absorbed the atmosphere and scenery into every pore as we adventured deeper into the park. I cannot possibly list every place we went to but will pick a couple that have significance because we managed them all with me in the battered wheels! From Banff we took a gondola up to Sulphur Mountain. They were so amazingly organised that I didn’t even have to get out of my chair. With ramp attached we were quickly aboard and heading up the incredibly giddy heights of the mountain – awesome! Did I mention the few crazy individuals that actually climbed the mountain rather than make use of a perfectly good ride!! At the top at last and we were blessed with a beautiful clear day to enjoy all the wonders from a 360 degree viewing facility.

Many pictures and a good cup of hot chocolate later and we were heading back down the mountain for our drive to Lake Louise.

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