Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Geriatric Globetrotting

A friend of ours, Adrian Metcalfe, is touring in The Odd Couple and it's coming to the De Valence Pavilion in Tenby, South Wales this week.

The De Valence Pavilion is just what you'd expect from the name, really - a cavernous, atmosphere-free 60s building. But the play will be good. And Tenby, of course, is delightful.

My mother decided to go to see it, and to stay at our favourite hotel in Tenby for a few days - she jaunted off there by herself last November and had a great time so, even though we're all going there in July, she thought she'd do it again.

One of the (few) good things about the British trains is that they have a service called Assisted Travel for those who are old or infirm.

My mother is old, but she isn't infirm. Here she is, striding off in Leeds Station this morning - she's the tiny one with the rucksack and the big case, with her back to the camera. By the time I'd got my camera out for a sneaky shot she was yards away as you can see.

She's taken a walking stick with her just in case she goes for any cliff walks - she doesn't really need it but I'm glad she's taken it. She was delighted that the hotel's open-air pool is ready. I did ask her not to swim in the sea - very cold at this time of year - but there was no way she was going to promise - she loves swimming in the sea. She promised she'd only go in if there were other people in.

However, she's very deaf - a tendency to not wear her hearing aids doesn't help this. "They make everything too loud" she says. After a while, apparently, the wearer's brain gets used to everything being too loud and filters out the stuff that isn't needed - - but in Mum's case, she never wears them for long enough for this to happen.

So she certainly can't hear train announcements, and really, although she can pull that case, she shouldn't be trying to lift it. She doesn't have a mobile, because, since her stroke when she was 68, she can't reliably dial numbers, and also I think she'd find the menus impossible to understand. And there are two changes of train on the way to Tenby, with only a few minutes between them.

But Assisted Travel are great - you tell them where the person travelling will be sitting and they meet them and take them through each change and see them to their seat.

Of course, this being the British railway system, it all went pear-shaped very quickly as one of Mum's trains was cancelled. I couldn't answer my mobile today as I was doing some training, and when I was able to look at it there was a phone message.

"My train was gone," said Mum, who finds talking on the phone a bit tricky since her stroke, "so I'm on a different one. But Noel is looking after me. He's Welsh."

Then Noel took over. "You're Mum's safe and well," he said in a strong, friendly Welsh accent straight from the Wales Tourist Board Accents School, "but one train was cancelled so she's had to come to Cardiff, not Swansea. I'm not sure whether she'll have to change at Carmarthen or Whitland but I'll make sure that we sort it out for her, so please don't worry."

My mother was having problems saying exactly what she wanted, but she sounded very happy. She should be nearly there by now and I think she'll ring me when she arrives. She's very sociable and she loves meeting new people. By now she and Noel will be firm friends: she'll know all about his entire family. The long journey would have been a nightmare to most people. I bet my mother has loved every moment.


Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Growing old? Your mother proves that there is hope for us all Daphne. In her seventies, my mother had a round the world trip, staying in youth hostels and cheap hotels in places as far apart as New Zealand, India and Canada. Like your mother she would always rattle away with anybody she encountered...geriatric gregariousness.

7:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sure sounds wonderful that she had assistance on the train. what a wonderful country you live in.

12:00 am  

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