Wayward wheeling – A blog of my Travels

Looking at my cake, 10 candles on it. This is when I remember the first wish I ever made…totally innocent to the world. Looking over the beautiful native bush of the west coast of the south island, I can see the other side of the valley and the river between this housebus and itself. I wished/prayed..spoke to the universe from my head, and the whole of belief of my heart to whatever was listening. pressing my eyelids together, took a breath and made my wish… I was happy but was in search for more.

This isnt about sadness, or me being in a chair… its about having a chance to view the world from a different perspective. So this blog is to follow me while im travelling, to laugh and love with me as I figure it all out. 

I had a car accident when i was 4 and a half, mum fell asleep at the wheel and the car drove off a bank in between nelson and motueka in New Zealand. Im in a wheelchair and have been since, as a quick run down as to how my body functions..it was my lower part of my spinal cord that was damaged. I can move my legs a little bit. i can only engage a couple of muscles in them faintly, but as someone in a chair who meets other people in chairs and all ranges of disabilities, the smallest of functions help with everyday life e.g. transfering, balance etc, we can all be thankful for something that someone else may not have. 

My whole life since my first wish Ive been searching, For happiness, fulfillment …something that made it all worth it. I’ve found it in sports, love, friends, career, learning, music, beauty, simplicity, challenge, fear. Now im searching through the experience of travel, the chance to put myself out to the world and see how it replies to the questions im asking. 

My beautiful Iona – Rental car with handcontrols…whaaaaat.

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Midway through my second month in the UK, I found out that rental cars have the option to have handcontrols put in them. That to me was GOLD, not only could I travel with ease …it also meant that for the time that I had the car rented I would have accomadation sorted aswell, sleeping somewhere at a whim without any organizing was my kind of travel….and I was just going to get in it and drive, see where I end up. So I’ll book a rental for a week and see where I end up.

I booked the rental, they required I let them know 48 hours before so that they could install the handcontrols. First stop I thought I would backtrack down to Sandwidch which was where I stayed with Ries and his mum for the 5 weeks..and I had left my walking calipers down there because they were a pain and I didnt plan on using them after the flight.I got to the company and filled all the paperwork out and went to do the check around it …And i realised there were no handcontrols, mabe they thought I didnt need them. At any rate they were super apologetic and for the wait I ended up gettting a free days rental. I rang sally and asked if I could stay the night as I was still going to come down and get the calipers but didnt end up leaving later that day.

I had spoken to one of my Ex girlfriends and I wanted to meet her dad because while we were going out, and i knew he was English and living in England. He seemed like someone I would love to meet. So Emma gave me her dads (Nick) number and we chatted and he offered offered for me to stay the night which was awesome because it’s not like I had a plan…I thought I might head up to Scotland but I knew it would take me awhile because it was a long way from Sanwidch. 

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Up early and on the road, trying to figure what the speed limit was on the motorway…so google it was. I loved the motorway and the system of fast, medium and slow lanes, there was no stopping for hours and hours. ALSO thank goodness for cruize control because the handcontrols were literally just a couple of poles connected to the accelerator and brake, which sounds dodgy but they were safe-ish haha but holding down the accelerator with your thumb for 5 hours straight is not terribly comfortable. 

Nick and Wendy were amazing, they were so accomadating. We had some wine, whiskey, talked philosophies , chatted away and they were telling me places of interest in the north of the UK. Iona being one of them, a very spiritual place was what Nick told me…somewhere people go for peace. Now that sounds exactly like something I’m after.So theres a destination for me to head to tommorrow or at least try, it was a long drive from eaton to Oban. I dont exactly have an endless amount of money, infact the opposite so I was very aware that I couldn’t spend money on this long trip, and ferry rides, however at least it sounded too nice to not go there. So at the very least I’m going to drive up and check out Scotland and if the ferry tickets are too expensive…they are too expensive. 
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Up early, was feeling good even after a few wines and whiskeys last night. Nick and Wendy sent me off with a full stomach of an english breakfast which was amazing, and Nick and I exchanged details so I could let him know how the trip was going. On the road….the very long road up to Oban. I drove from 8am til 6pm to make it up to beautiful Scotland where I parked up in a foresty rest area and slept in the back of the car with the sound of the rain on the roof…this is exactly what I had wanted. I did wake up paranoid in the night though because I parked near a bank in the rest area and for some crazy reason I thought the rain was making me slip closer to the edge or the bank might give way or something, I checked…so far away from the bank, literally not even close haha. 

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Went to Oban, I expected a small fishing town or something. However it was buzzing..well compared to what I had pictured anyway. I did my daily routine of finding a coffee shop, charging my phone, reading and figuring out how to do whatever it was I was going to do. The coffee shop opened at 9 and the information centre at 10..Perfect, enough time for a quick charge and a coffee.The tickets for the ferries were not very expensive and I could even take the car across to the Isle of Mull so thats accomadation sorted. The Isle of Mull was not as small as I thought…it took me an hour and a bit to drive from where the ferry dropped me through they amazing and beautiful land that hand nothing but volcanic rocks in it to the where the Iona ferry would take me across. 

I could see the small Iona from when I got on the ferry for 3 pounds or something ridiculous.There only seemed to be 2 roads…so I wheeled down the one that seemed to be to me more promising, It felt like this Isle was as far as I could possibly go on earth. The lack of noise and the constant sound of the ocean breeze filled up my senses. The end of the road there was a sign it said “hostel – Scotlands most eco friendly hostel”, Well firstly I was suprised that there was a hostel at the end of what seemed the earth and also I couldnt see it…it was hidden behind and down a grassy hill. I went down and waved to a woman who was at the door, she volunteered here and showed me around. I said thanks and asked the price, and being concious of money I thought I would just catch the ferry back to Mull and sleep in the car there instead because Mull was nice too. Making my out of the entrance to the hostel there was a gate to a grassy field, I’ll go check that out.

The ground was soft like a cushion, the track is a mountainous field of what feels like total freedom. The sound of the ocean and the soft breeze looking out from this island feeling like im have it all to myself at the end of the earth. This is what I invision my dream of peace would look like. I just lay there, looking up and out. It is so peaceful….this is why im travelling. 

How could I not stay after that peaceful moment, I wheeled back down to the hostel and checked in. I wheeled down to the beach..parked up, jumped down on to the grass and spent the next hour or so watching the sunset. listening to the ocean and just looking, and everything was worth this moment. 

That night, there were more people staying at the hostel than I thought there would be..and again it was magical. These people all after the same thing. A young girl there Iona ( I know crazy right) got out the fiddle and there was a guitar sitting in the corner so we had a jam and provided some music for the people in the hostel, dancing and a glass of whiskey provided by a Scottish man and his partner. At the end of the night we all went up to the top of the grassy hill layed down under the clearest blanket of stars and Iona played the fiddle softly while we watched the night…..Iona, the Isle that is the reason for memory.

The Bustling london – The watch watching city.

London, You gave me no direction..wonderfully lost, in awe of your rush. I could have spent years there and not seen everything. Time was gone before I even started counting. Millions of people, and everyone on their own daily mission. 

After Brighton it was off to london, I had a room I could stay in at sile and alex’s house. As much as I’m someone that is drawn more to wilderness, London left its mark too. The transport mainly, Probably because when I went out it was over half the time on transport…Buses, Trains, undergrounds, ferries, pushing. 

Two weeks in total and I felt that I hadn’t even touched the surface of what London had to offer. Lively busking, everything moving and people everywhere from all over the world. I spent my 28th birthday in London and how wonderful it felt to be spending it in a new enviroment, wheeling around the streets, through the tubes and trains. Not everything was pictursque as like any major city but there was beauty all over, hidden away sometimes. 

My favourite experiences came from catching the tubes and trains, being enclosed with so many diversities, being able to watch people and interact with the busy people of London. I had been getting wonderfully lost on numerous occasions as some of the stops are wheelchair accessible to the street level, some only in between different undergrounds, and it took me awhile to figure out where and when to get off…some days I spent 3 or so hours getting somewhere being stuck going the wrong direction or going in a loop to catch a train that went somewhere I could get off…such an adventure. It was also partly because I just wanted to get on and just wing it to my destination which wasn’t the fastest way to get there but it was the most fun. 

Time does not go slowly in London as you are pushed up to the pace it runs at, and I could feel if I stayed months and years could’ve passed in an instant. London you amaze me but I cannot stay.

Beautiful Brighton – The start of the solo journey. 

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives,other souls.”

Why I loved you brighton, people were holding hands and loving each other. People were embracing their individualism. I wander down your beach late at night, watching the stars as I listen to your waves. The beach is endless and your alleys bustling with footsteps.You’re beautiful sunsets were a perfect start to a beginning.
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You can do this, Time to problem solve and enjoy doing it. This is the time to show myself, no matter how much it all seems like an obstacle that I can think my way through it. That I can adapt and be ok anywhere…and still appreciate everything while I’m doing it.Telling myself this as I spend my first night in a motel, with absolutely no plan and now completely on my own with this giant backpack in Brighton in the south of england. 

I had just spend 5 weeks in Sanwidch up in Kent, and had caught a ride with Dave a guy in a chair I know from the tennis circuit when I was playing. I knew I was flying out of gatwick 28th of feb so another month and a bit before heading off to the states…What was I going to do?…I’ll go for a push, thats what I’ll do.Music in. I’d spend most of my time in Brighton Pushing up and down and through the town with my little daypack to put a book, my sweater and my charger so I could go to a coffee place at some stage and charge my phone and read. Just in general the day pack was good because anytime I carry something on my lap it always is falling off. 

20-1-17

Next obstabcle was how was I going to survive?. I knew I didn’t come away with enough money, I had to go..I set this date when I was 22 that I had to leave before my 28th birthday. Enough time to have finished my apprenticeship and work a year..6 years to make sure I was ready, I was going ready or not. 

Well I play guitar, and busking is on my bucketlist. I couldn’t put myself out there much more than that. So off down to a music store to buy a guitar..I figure, this a cost but I have the money now to buy this but wont soon. At least this way if I end up with nothing, I have something to make money. I had bought my songbook with my originals too, so I came up with a setlist and practiced it with a few covers but I enjoyed playing original stuff more. The guitar had a bag with straps so I could wheel around with it on my back, and I figured a way to attach it to my already big backpack…so now it only weighed a trillion Kilograms and took me a couple of practices to figure out how to get them both on and off my back.. 
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I booked a week in a hostel, the YHA which was orginally a hotel that was bought by the YHA. It was such a cool hostel, with a wicked vibe. I tried to make life easier on myself by booking places that didnt have steps and I knew I could stay on the bottom floor or they had a lift.The UK was not a terribly accessible place, with all the building historic.So I spent most of time staying in places that had stairs, which I’m totally cool with..I’ve always tried to adpat to the world around me instead of it having to adapt to me.That way I could be more independant. 

Had a day off mooching, thats what they call wandering around. 

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Do people like my shoes or do I have funny feet? I found myself wondering as I wheeled around Brighton,  I did stick out a bit because I didn’t see many people in chairs around..probably because on the accessibility and hills, but I had a chick say “nice kicks” (shoes apparently haha) and my shoes were expensive, So I went with the shoes theory. 

I spent the day going into places to see if they needed volunteers, It would give me something to do and also I was hoping I would end up with an offer for somewhere to crash so I wasn’t spending all my money on Accommadation and I hadn’t had any replies from the workaway site yet. I’m sure I’ll figure it out. 
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I met up with an austrilian girl I had met, Mary, and she was travelling on her own too. So we became brighton friends and hungout when we got bored at our respective hostels..so I ended up having a buddy for a week or so which was cool, because after the first week mooching around the city had lost its appeal and I had literally wheeled all over brighton. 

Also I had met up with a couple of basketball teams, And had trainings with them. I had my basketball wheelchair with me so I could travel and people helped me get to and from training or I caught Ubers. I trained every night with a different team that week and it so felt good to be training…Not that the pushing around the city wasn’t good training. 
25-1-17

So close to busking, I’m so scared. I did a wee sign and took the guitar out for a walking finding the places that would work well acoustically and with the crowds of people. At least I got that far but if I got that far why not go that tiny bit more and play?. I dont think the playing bothers me, it was being in peoples faces…Tomorrow I’ll do it. 

I didn’t end up finding anywhere to crash, so I had to decide whether to stay another week. I had found somewhere in london with some friends, Sile and Alex. they werent ready for me until next weekend. I knew I had done everything in brighton now, well as a traveller anyway. Although a well travelled man through sport, I have no idea where to start or what to do. I’d love to be in the country somewhere…but I’ll book another week at the hostel. Still no replies from workaway…darn it. 
26-1-17

Today I did it, I can tick busking off my bucketlist.As soon as I woke up this morning, I got straight out of bed and grabbed the guitar and got a coffee.I was hoping the dazey mind from just waking up would stop me from talking myself out of it. Although I made 70 cents haha so I’m not sure it counts. I had amazingly picked today, the coldest day on record for brighton someone had told me…so I really didn’t stay out long. The hardest thing was just pulling the guitar out of the bag, playing wasn’t hard. I orginally went up to a shopping centre but was told that I would get told to move, so that scared me a little bit but I still went to another spot and started playing. I just need to beat 70 cents now…I’m sure I can do that. 
27-1-17

I went do to littlehampton for a training today, which was about an hour out of brighton. It was a port town, so I wheeled around the seafront. I had a few hours to kill before training, I found a botique looking bookstore and had a look around and picked up a couple of books and put them in the daypack. 

A sentence in a book or a phrase from a stranger can make me happier than a year of working or all the money in the world can, and thats what I got from this philosophy book I picked up at this store. 

28-1-17

I met up with mary and a guy from her hostel, and we went out for drink. Then we went out to a nightclub…I love music and dancing, and people too. If I thought people hadn’t seen someone in chair before while I was out mooching, They definetly hadn’t seen someone out clubbing… not here anyway. It was a positive vibe though, got treated a bit like a celebrity.
2-2-17

My last week in brighton before I head off to london.I don’t spend much time in the hostel, I’ll go out and get a coffee, listen to a band, go for a push and listen to music and people watch and people talk haha. I went to the cinema and the guy there was super friendly and had told me he had handed in his notice and only had 3 days of work left so he gave me a free ticket..people are awesome. The weather had turned from cold and sunny to rainy, and I spent sometime pushing in the rain. There is something about sitting in the rain which is nice, if you let go of the fact you are going to be soaking wet.

Also I went and played a poker tournament, which was totally random but fun. It was intimadating because I had only played online poker before but I gave it a shot. Would be nice if I could just win it haha but playing online poker and real life poker was a bit different. 


4-2-17

Went out for a goodbye drink with some people I had met, Hilde and co. they were very welcoming for a stranger pretty much. Also met Kate and Jenny who were hardcase chicks and hungout with them for a while in a local before I made a solo trip back to the hostel listening to music and watching the rowdy people enjyoing their friday night. 

Off to the bustle of london tomorrow for the big city experience..Wish me luck . 

The goodbye and the start

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All finshed up at work, how weird to not have anything to work towards. About to start out on that journey I first wrote about in a journal of mine years ago. Trying to find out whats important in life to me without the distraction of routine.

Finishing up a couple of weeks early to organize things was a great idea, like the hitchhiking I didnt organize much and seeing as I wasnt going to be in the rules of my own country anymore..I almost needed more time i found out. Also I had a coldplay concert to go to and that was a going to be a perfect send off. 

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On the plane now, on my way to heathrow airport and the first hour of the journey. I havent been scared or excited…being a very in the moment type of person, and now having the freedom to not have any routine, plans or direction meant that up until now it felt like I was working towards this freedom . Looking out the window is amazing, I feel relaxed..ive said goodbye to everyone, more in depth with some than others, Telling them that I had no idea how long I was gone and where I would be. Saying goodbye to Julie at the airport wasnt easy and Ries who I was going to be spending the first 5 weeks with in england was struggling with the goodbye to his partner. 

These calipers are a pain already, not comfortable at all. Having an operation and spending 3 months in hospital to help me wander around a bit like Forrest Gump but a much much much slower version and with crutches turns out to be mabe more of an around the house idea…not a two 12 hour flight idea. Although I must admit even though super awkward to manouvre down the isle with them to the toilet, it was so much less emabarrasing than crawling down the isle for the inevitable toilet stop I would need to make.