Friday, 31 May 2013

A Differently Normal Weekend #1

On the weekend of 25th May I went to the HMSA 'Big Bash' in Rugby, staying the weekend in a local IBIS hotel. It was quite a weekend. I thought I'd share the main highlights here, but over the next few weeks may add other 'memorable moments' from this very differently normal weekend.

I had found the IBIS hotel at Crick online. I called to find out about accessible twin rooms, and instead of 'oh it's accessible' or 'oh no, it isn't accessible', they outlined the shower facilities, then sent photos of the room so I could make my own decision. Perfect.

I stayed with Carla. Another bendy wheelchair user.

Later, Carla told me that the staff were friendly, helpful - and rapidly learning about disability.

Sometimes perfect isn't people understanding the ins and outs of complex disabilities - it is their willingness to learn, their cheerful acceptance of each learning opportunity, and their absolute acceptance of me as a human being and valued member of society.

The HMSA event went well. Chatted to various people. Raised awareness - and money. And returned to the hotel for a nap before dinner.

Again, the staff did something I've never seen before. Instead of a waitress standing awkwardly trying to work out which foods suited which allergies, the assistant manager wrote out a list of foods from the menu which complied with the allergy list, and gave it to Carla for use at any meal while staying there. Practical, without fuss and extremely useful. Although I could possibly have worded my menu request better....

Filipa was the perfect waitress. She joined in the joke, not in the least awkward with our various disabilities and allergies - or our attitude to life, friendly and with a great sense of humour.

So, after laughing til our sides ached, we headed for our room, believing our HMS awareness work was done for the day...until Carla dislocated her shoulder, with her right elbow by her left ear and totally unable to relocate it.

And once he was educated, we moved on to 2 orthopaedic surgeons. 

 I didn't get back to the hotel til 8am, Carla didn't return til 4pm. So we stayed an extra night. Arranged at 5am. Which the fabulous assistant manager - Bode Philips - took in his stride.

And do you know what? even with the A and E trip, and exhausting HMSA event, it was still a relaxing experience. I don't think I have ever stayed somewhere where all the staff I met were friendly, polite and proud of their work. Happy to help, but not offended if help was refused. And it wasn't just us getting special treatment - during dinner on Sunday we got chatting to a lovely chap (worked in a prison, was buying a canal boat) who agreed - the staff at the IBIS hotel in Crick are simply: 

The Best.

So now Filipa has a differently normal keyring, and the rest of the staff have wristbands 


  1. sounds great!!!!! loving Graham!!!!! ;)

  2. pretty good - it was no "normal" day for su8re


  3. Just brilliant, although even as someone with very naughty shoulders, the mind boggles at what Carla's did. Makes me appreciate mine kindly staying at least vaguely near the socket when they escape!!!

  4. :-D I'm glad it was relaxing and thank you for blogging it and making me grin! Hope Carla's shoulder behaves for a bit now :P


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