My first time travelling without my mum was one of the most overwhelming things I’ve ever done. It taught me a lot about my own abilities, friendship and the importance of eating!
Friday morning came and I was equally nervous and excited about the weekend ahead. We were going to Frank Turner’s 4 day festival Lost Evenings which I was really excited for. However, I was nervous to find out whether or not I would cope without my mum. Getting to London was relatively easy and I’m grateful that Laura knew more about the process because everything ran smoothly. We arrived at Euston Station and then made our way to our hotel.
The first day held one of the scariest moments for me. We quickly realised that bus drivers would be funny about letting two wheelchair users on their bus at the same time. So we had to travel to the Roundhouse separately. This was my first time getting public transport in a big city alone, and I was terrified. I’ve always been scared of public transport. I panic that I’m on the wrong bus! However, once I’d done it, I saw how easy it was and wasn’t so scared the rest of the weekend.
Saturday went by pretty smoothly for the most part. However, I went a long time without eating and had to get an ‘assistance baguette’ before the show which was desperately needed. Before the gig, we tried to move our seats to the balcony because we had difficulty seeing the first night. We were given the go ahead from reception to move to the balcony but security manning the area was rude to us and said they weren’t prepared for two wheelchair users. The woman refused to talk directly to Laura and I and had the conversation with the person with us at the time. But luckily, we ended up being put back where she told us we couldn’t go in the end which meant we had a pretty good view of the gig!
Monday was our final full day in London and pretty eventful. We set off from Euston and headed to Back Up’s offices to discuss Back Up Fest. Laura has been heavily involved in the setting up of the festival and I have helped with generating some of the ideas. Our trip to the offices meant that we could discuss ideas from both ends with Kat, Back Up’s Community Fundraiser and a key member of the team organising the festival. After discussing our weekend, Kat suggested that Laura and I run a talk on travelling independently. After the meeting, we tried to get back to Euston but the tube stopped at the wrong point at the stop, meaning we were unable to use the platform boarding ramp so we were stuck. This led to us having to go all the way to Wembley and get off there. However, when we eventually got off, the lift to get us out was broken so we had to go back to where we were originally trying to get off. We missed the gig that night because we ran out of time in the end. I found that day particularly stressful at times. However, I knew I was fine, and was finally beginning to realise just how far I had come in that weekend in terms of independence and confidence.
My weekend in London was important for me and special in many ways, so despite minor setbacks, I will always realise how far I had come due to that trip. Living in Crewe, I was scared to go into town by myself because of a fear of getting lost or something happening. However, since coming back from London, I have managed it and realised how easy it really is. I have come back with a lot more confidence in myself, and I now believe that I am capable of all of the things that I had told myself that I wasn’t for so long.
Back Up Fest is being held in Oxford and after my trip to London, I feel more confident in using public transport and travelling solo. I want to challenge myself to make the trip by myself, which means I will have to plan and sort everything out to ensure it runs smoothly. But with everything I learned over my weekend in London, I’m ready for the challenge.
If you would like to attend Holly’s discussion about independent travel, make sure you visit our website and buy your tickets today for Back Up Fest, July 8 2017. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 8875 1805.