My Ruby Slippers Are Defective

Today 

  • I didn’t want to move when I woke up in Dante’s 7th circle of joint pain hell.
  • I didn’t want to keep down breakfast
  • I didn’t want to sit in the car for 3 1/2 hours to Calais
  • I didn’t want to wake up regularly gasping as we braked & my back flew into spasm
  • I objected to paying extortionate prices for toll roads that had appalling service stops 
  • I didn’t want to lay curved into a contorted angle on the train whilst it rocked me side to side & scattered my ribs
  • I didn’t want to remain in the car for a further 2 hours to drive home (see waking up above)

I didn’t want to travel on a flare day. But I did. And now I’m home in our bed set up just for us having had a bath in my lovely accessible bathroom and a cuddle with the cats. 

There’s no place like home.
Addition: 

What made me flare so badly today? It was a combination of being in the car the previous day for nigh on 6 hours, then staying in the worst hotel we’d ever booked. The Sejours & Affaires clairemarias in Reims.

Here is the brochure photo of the 1 bedroom apartment from Booking.com – this is clearly listed under “facilities for disabled guests”.

And another of the kitchenette

So, we were expecting basic, but clean and functional as a stopover. This was billed as a wheelchair accessible apartment which we double checked by email & relieved confirmation of – this roughly translates to “is on the ground floor & has no stairs”.

This is my photo:

Aside from smelling distinctly of the goat farm (?!), the wall paint was peeling, the cabinets were grubby & the kitchenette and general location reminded me of when Mr Geek & I shared a student flat. In its favour, the WiFi was excellent (so, yes, very much like our flat). We slept on the metal sofa bed which had a mattress approximately the depth of a Kardashian which promptly instigated my shoulder coming out as I turned, my pelvis twisting, & a nasty clunk in my neck that made my hand go tingly. I eventually fell asleep laying flat on my back with my legs in a full lotus to lock my hips in place.
My magic touch with hotels was missing on this one. By the next morning, I wanted my Ruby Slippers. 

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My Ruby Slippers Are Defective

Today 

  • I didn’t want to move when I woke up in Dante’s 7th circle of joint pain hell.
  • I didn’t want to keep down breakfast
  • I didn’t want to sit in the car for 3 1/2 hours to Calais
  • I didn’t want to wake up regularly gasping as we braked & my back flew into spasm
  • I objected to paying extortionate prices for toll roads that had appalling service stops 
  • I didn’t want to lay curved into a contorted angle on the train whilst it rocked me side to side & scattered my ribs
  • I didn’t want to remain in the car for a further 2 hours to drive home (see waking up above)

I didn’t want to travel on a flare day. But I did. And now I’m home in our bed set up just for us having had a bath in my lovely accessible bathroom and a cuddle with the cats. 

There’s no place like home.
Addition: 

What made me flare so badly today? It was a combination of being in the car the previous day for nigh on 6 hours, then staying in the worst hotel we’d ever booked.

Here is the brochure photo of the 1 bedroom apartment:

And another of the kitchenette

So, we were expecting basic, but clean and functional as a stopover. This was billed as a wheelchair accessible apartment which we double checked by email & relieved confirmation of – this roughly translates to “is on the ground floor & has no stairs”.

This is my photo:

Aside from smelling distinctly of the goat farm (?!), the wall paint was peeling, the cabinets were grubby & the kitchenette and general location reminded me of when Mr Geek & I shared a student flat. In its favour, the WiFi was excellent (so, yes, very much like our flat). We slept on the metal sofa bed which had a mattress approximately the depth of a Kardashian which promptly instigated my shoulder coming out as I turned, my pelvis twisting, & a nasty clunk in my neck that made my hand go tingly. I eventually fell asleep laying flat on my back with my legs in a full lotus to lock my hips in place.
My magic touch with hotels was missing on this one. By the next morning, I wanted my Ruby Slippers. 

Budget Ibis Hotel, Valenciennes – Accessibility Review

This is an extended version of my TripAdvisor review. I had reviewed this hotel in terms of accessibility with the following in mind:

  • Wheelchair Access: limited
  • Physical Access: single floor / good
  • Disabled Parking: Excellent
  • Sensory: Adjustable lighting / No temperature control / some read noise / linen (plain cotton) / ambient noise – low / reception (strong smell of sandlewood)

Lovely clean room which looked well maintained & had a bath! (Something sorely missed when we’ve travelled before). Fab idea to have one of the kids beds above the double as this saves on room and our youngest was very happy with having her own nightlight. The beds are basic & sturdy (read ‘hard’) which suited me well, but Mr Softie husband wondered if mattress had been optional…

An image of the ground floor family room with a double bed, single bed, & bunk bed width ways over the double bed

Rooms were on the ground floor which meant that you could park right outside the room (lots of disabled bays & plenty of space to get out).

Panoramic image of car parking spaces & entry doors with disabled parking & ramp to doors

The room had a patio door at the back leading to a little patio area & grass, which despite being very close to the motorway, was peaceful and very welcome after hours in a car! The area itself is fenced off which allowed the kids to stretch their legs (with other children doing similar) & us a safe place to store our bikes just outside the door & give us a little more room.

WiFi is included in the price of the room which was very welcome and was a decent speed for general browsing.

Lady at reception was very helpful and took pity on us after our dreadful attempt at chatting in French (I forget words in English, so perhaps a road trip where I attempted to speak French, German, & English was maybe aiming a tad high!). There’s an accessible toilet in reception.

Breakfast was a buffet with coffee, croissant, yoghurt etc. Everything was fresh & very nice. My only issue was using the brilliantly installed wheelchair lift to get to the breakfast bar… which was locked & no one had a key! This was easily solved by sending the family up to the breakfast bar & sitting in the lower table area. This is a potential issue had I been travelling alone.

Wheelchair lift in reception

Getting to reception in a wheelchair is difficult (there is a 2″ step to get onto the ramp which was too steep for me to propel myself manual chair up myself ). Once in reception, there is a lowered desk, although the card machine doesn’t reach it.
Image of tamp to reception with step up get to ramp

There is no resturant on site & if you’re travelling on a Sunday there is very little available. An “emergency” McDonald’s is located 4km up the motorway (about 10 minutes). Usually, there is a resturant available at the neighbouring Novatel.

We booked a stopover here for a family room clearly stating that one person was a wheelchair user at the time of booking. On arrival, we were told that room layouts were either wheelchair accessible for 2 people, or family rooms. As I need physical help from my husband during the night, we couldn’t make use of the suggestion to book 2 separate rooms, so stuck with the family room.

There is a clearly signed wheelchair access route to the rooms from the car park, however this also contains a 1″ lip in order to get up to the walkway. The doors were wide enough to push my manual wheelchair through if my husband helped lift me over the raised frame, and aside from not being able to close the bathroom door & there being no grab handles (remember that this was not billed as the accessible room), the hard floors and clean layout meant that I could scoot about in my chair with relative ease. For those with anything bigger than an active user chair, this wouldn’t be an option.

Overall, it was perfectly pleasant as a stopover with our only grumble being the mildly terrifying ramps & the assumption that a family wouldn’t require an accessible room.