Tag Archive for google maps

Peaceful Pitlochry

Continued from ….. GETTING MY GEEK ON in Glasgow

The train journey was through rolling hills and beautiful landscapes.

Arriving at Pitlochry a fellow passenger helped me off with my case as there was a pushchair and hold-all in the door; only to have someone take my case on the platform!

All was okay though…. the man taking my case was in fact my cousin who had come to meet me!  I would be spending my time with him and his wife.  He gave me the warmest of welcomes and enveloping hug, easing away all the tensions from galavanting in Glasgow.

Fizz also had a friend, in their dog Honey (although on first impressions they weren’t too keen on each other)

Pitlochry is somewhere I have never been before, but thanks to good olde Google Streetview I felt it was somewhere I would be comfortable.  The high street was made up of a mix of cafes, charity shops and outdoor shops.  The homes were nestled within lush green fields and with numerous whiskey distilleries, long walks and most importantly … FAMILY

A family who opened their home to me. Who cooked me a overly dinner and who walked me via the local golf course to the pub to enjoy a drink or 3 with them and their friends.

After a very comfortable nights sleep we took the dogs out for a walk to Black Spout Wood, a beautiful and refreshing walk with streams for the dogs to splash about in and my first ever encounter of a natural waterfall.

Photograph of small waterfall in the middle of trees and bushes, taken from the waterfall lookout opposite

The waterfall was considerably smaller than than usual, because water levels in the streams were much lower as even in Scotland they have been having a very hot summer.

All before returning for some lunch before embarking on a second walk and whiskey tasting in the afternoon.

Afterall, you can’t come to such a beautiful Burgh without tasting the local produce … Even if that is whiskey and gin!

And it is a whiskey that the store keeper knows so well, with the undertones of banana in one and dark chocolate in another; I must admit that to my untrained nose I could taste the differences in the samples, but not what was explained.  We even sampled some of Pitlochry’s new gin, which I found very enjoyable and easy to drink.

After a few purchases we headed off towards The Pitlochry Dam.  A structure that was planned back in the 1950s, being fully operational in 1962.  You see the dam had (at the time) been part of Scotland’s history as the dam created hydro-electricity that helped to power just under two-thirds of The Highlands energy supply (bearing in mind the in 1960 energy usage was no where near what it was today)

The dam being on the river Tummel also included ‘A fish ladder’ enabling the salmon to move through their migration into the river after the dam.

The visitor centre had been renovated in recent years and for my cousin it was the first time he had visited it, we enjoyed some time looking around and learning the history and impact of the dam.

Photograph taken from the top of the dam looking towards the river tunnel and Loch Faskelly Photograph taken from the top of the fish ladder, showing it move down in stages like the gates on a canal

Photograph taken from ontop of the dam looking down the river and into Pitlochry

Again, the river Tummel and the Dam are showing how deplested the water levels are given the hot weather.  It was very interesting though to find out how important and revelationary this dam was and how even now it continues to support Scotland’s power supplies, although now much of Scotland receives its energy from wind turbines.

Photograph of a plaque within the visitor centre with a quote from one of the civil engineers who helped design the dam

During our walk we encountered the odd shower, but this just created a beautiful sky of blue and grey with the odd black cloud against the lush creeks and earth colours of the hills and trees.

But sadly all too soon, it was time to catch another train.  For the next part of my adventure.  A train journey that saw me returning to Perth before changing to travel on to Dundee.

Dubdee is a city I have visited many MANY many times before, but not for several years.  In fact, the last time I visited was when I went to my Grabs funeral.

But that is another post.

To Be Continued …

 

 

 

 

GETTING MY GEEK ON in Glasgow

Photograph of my gold Starbucks travel mug with the guide book to The Glasgow Science Centre with the SEC Armadillo building behind across the river Clyde.

Continued from … Welcome to Glasgow

After a relaxed evening in the hotel which included a Tai Chi class, a swim and a sauna before a gorgeous dinner, on Wednesday morninf I decided to visit The Glasgow Science Centre before embarking on another train journey deeper into Scotland (you’ll have to read on to find out where)

The Science Centre and adjoining iMax cinema were architecturally interesting buildings even before I walked through the doors.

 

Photograph shows a round ball like building on the left which is Glasgow IMAX with a large screen on the right of the photograph, with a small green area in front of it

Photograph is taken of the rear of the IMAX building where Starbucks sits amongst a glass wall sat beside part of an old dock areaPhotograph of the entrance to The Glasgow Science Museum, shoring what looks like the top half of a letter C shaped building, the glass front of the building sat to the right of the large screen

These building were custom built for purpose and opened to the public in June 2001, with a titanium clad exterior the Science Centre (science mall) with its crescent shaped glazing enables it along with the neighbouring imax to ‘blend in’ with the often grey overcast skies of Glasgow while offering a reflection from the river Clyde.

Set over three floors and including a planetarium and many interactive work station I could understand how it had gained its reputation and place on trip advisor as a ‘MUST SEE’ even though it was a pay for attraction (which many museums are not)

I fell in love with each and every floor.

Although I struggled with a few small issues (like no large print or alternative format maps or voice information on the lifts) I did find a very helpful member of staff who explained the floor levels to me and even explained where the stairs were as they were tucked away as the main traffic was directed towards the large lifts.

One perminant exhibit that I was interested in was ‘A Question of Perception’ that looked at optical illusions, the science behind it and how the human brain helps with this.  In addition to the illusions, I watched the cctv monitors for the centres own ‘wacky salon’ (you can find a video for this on YouTube, but as it is not accessible I have decided against sharing it here)

With interactive exhibitions across the whole centre, including a wonderful planetarium I enjoyed a good couple of hours here and took hundreds of photographs of the different exhibits, of which I will share just one with you.  This is of the ‘perfect triangle’ which from the angle of my photograph looks far from perfect.

Photograph of tabary - A mind blowing sculpture of a three part solid triangle, which is in fact an optical illusion and it is only when you get to within 2 foot of it that you see the sculpture is actulay 3 separate solid four sided rectangular, not actually a triangle at all.

However, too soon it was time for me to go, popping back to the hotel to collect my bags and head off for another train journey.

A train journey that saw me travelling from Exhibition Road to Glasgow Central, to hop on the shuttle bus to Glasgow Queen Street before boarding a train to Perth, where I would then change again (after a quick ‘wee stop’ for Fizz) to travel onto Pitlochry.

A place that could not be further from the hustle and bustle of Glasgow, with a population of just over 2,500 in comparison Glasgows 500,000….. It was a place I really couldn’t wait to escape to.

To be continued…….

Welcome to Glasgow

Continued from ….All Aboard

The sun was warm, although the sky was grey; the air reminded me of London, yet the feeling I got from this city was very different.  It was as if when I spoke people softened.

Maybe it was hearing my southern English accent or maybe it was just the way I spoke.  Whatever it was, it was very welcoming.

The train assistant walked me out onto the street beside Glasgow Central station and told me to turn right and then right again at the corner.  To go to the crossing and I would find myself beside the river, from there I should turn right again and walk alongside The Clyde and I would reach The Glasgow Crowne Plaza.

Walking towards the Clyde had another reason; according to google maps, it was where the closest patch of grass was for Fizz to be able to have her breakfast and do ‘her business’ after all I was very aware that she had been on a train for eight hours without any option of relief!

The walk was lovely, calming yet refreshing and i was able to enjoy the varying architecture and engineering of the many different bridges we passed.  (I later discovered just how many bridges there where)

The hotel was sat just after an odd ‘armadillo’ shaped building.  I later discovered this to be The SEC Armadillo (yup that its official name) beside the SSE Hydro, a large exhibition, show and conference space.

Photograph shows the side of The SEC, the building is shaped like an armadillo shell.

While on the other side of the river there was The Glasgow Science Centre, IMAX cinema and The Glasgow Tower.  But given the mix and mismatch of buildings and paving shows how there has been an increase in renovation and regeneration within the area in recent years.

Photograph is taken beside the river Clyde railing, showing across the river with BBC Scotland on the left, with The Glasgow science centre dome shaped building along with The Glasgow tower on the right of the image, The imax cinema can be partly seen in between the bbc building and the science centre

This would do nicely, very nicely as a base to explore from.  Surprisingly even at 8am in the morning my hotel room was ready for me, so instead of just leaving my bag at the hotel, I was able to check in, refresh with a lovely shower and sort myself out read for an adventure.

The hotel was beautiful, with 16 floors I took the opportunity to go upto the very top floor to look at the views (after photographing them and then zooming in) here are just a few of them.

Photograph shows the view of The Glasgow Tower and Science Centre across the river Clyde and a bridge taken from the 16thfloor of the hotel

When initially researching the hotel I had found that there was a train station closer to the hotel, but because this would have been involving walking away from the grass area i had decided against it originally.  However I re-looked at it as a way to get back into the city centre for part of my exploration.

And when I did I discovered not only that the train station was just 3 minutes walk away, but that it was fully accessible over a large dual carriageway thanks to this beautifully designed fully covered in, ramped bridge.

Can you tell that the design geek in me was happy?Photograph of red steel girders of a covered over path and cycle path, showing the red and green paths with an arch over the top which is totally enclosed


Second photograph shows the arch of the red girders forming over the top of the passageway looking down on the ramp with the green and red path for cycles and pedestrians.
The train took me less than 5 minutes to travel back into the center of Glasgow.  Where I quickly found that my google maps was struggling a little because of the high buildings and built up area just like it does in London.

We (Fizz and I) walked for hours, admiring buildings, discovering Glasgow Queen Street station which would be the station I would need to continue my travel later.  And in finding other station just a few moments walk from The Central Station I discovered this beautiful mosaic.

Photograph of Mosaic at Glasgow Queen Street railway station, showing the river cliyde and bridge on the left and the buildings of Glasgow on the left.

I could continue to bore you with photographs from around Glasgow, but actually all I will say is that I walked over 20,000 steps in this beautiful city and saw some amazing buildings along with meeting many MANY many tourists from lots of different countries.

Fizz walked her paws off and she was a superstar for me.  With the odd little ‘mischievous quirk’ when she discovered a near by costa and clearly felt we had walked enough for the moment and walked me quickly to the crossing, causing traffic to stop before I had realised what her plans were …

Who am i to argue with a guide dog?

Stop, refuelled and ready for more…. off we go again.

TO BE CONTINUED …

All Aboard

Stock photograph of Glasgow Central Station sign

Continued from The start of an adventure… 

With a coffee in hand, along with my suitcase, book bag, handbag and guide dog I soon found the mobility assistance within London Euston Railway station.  My assistance had been pre-booked so at just after 22:00 i was guided to my train.

The man assisting me happily took my case and my book bag and off we went.

It was a very different ‘check-in’ for The Caladonian Sleeper.  It reminded me more of checking in to a flight.

First I checked in and was informed by the staff that I would be upgraded to a berth, they allocated me the ‘accessibile berth’ so that I was directly beside the toilet and just a door away from the lounge car.

The train measured over a quarter of a mile long and I was towards the furthest end.  This is because the train that leaves Euston travels towards Scotland as one train, before splitting; with one part going towards Edinburgh and the other part towards Glasgow.

Photograph is of the side of The Caladonian Sleeper train carriage from the platform

Once onboard the train, my room wasn’t quite ready, so I was seated in the lounge car where I was able to enjoy reading the extensive whiskey menu before I settled for a glass of red wine; before making myself and Fizz comfortable for the night in our berth.

Photograph from the open electronic door on my berth, showing the open and close panel on the left, Fizz sat in front of the single bed which has an orange hand rail and a top bunk bed that is seen at the top of the picturePhotograph is taken from where I sat in the bottom bunk in the berth, showing the width of the bed, with a counter at the end of the bed and the sink with a bottle of water on the side

The bed was comfortable, I took the extra pillows off the top bunk and although I looked at the little ‘sleep pack’ that was sat on the bed, I chose not to make use of the eye mask or ear plugs.  For my first ever sleeper journey I wanted to be as aware of my surroundings as possible.

I plugged my phone and watch in the USB ports, worked out which switch was for the main light and the bed light; popped to the loo again for one last time and tucked in to bed to listen to my audio book all before the train had even left the station.

This was a school girl error as I suddenly felt very aware and awake when the train did start moving.  Especially at the beginning when we were stopping at other London stations (just like a normal train would) so it was not until we were clear of London that I found myself getting comfortable again and drifting off to sleep.

I remember waking several times throughout the night, but there was not a clear reason for it.  It wasn’t until I awoke in a panic when the train seemed to ‘turn off’ that I got a reasonable nights sleep.

My panic awakening was because I felt that we must surely have arrived in Glasgow, although upon reaching my phone I realised I was over an hour early for the arrival time of Glasgow, let alone for the extra thirty minutes I had to vacate my room once we did arrive.

So I took the time to get dressed and raise the blind in my room to let the Scottish scenery in.  I even made myself a Herbalife shake for breakfast and got packed up.

Photograph of the open blind within my birth showing the countryside with the sink and worktop in the foreground

It wasn’t long before we pulled into Glasgow Central Station and the kind staff gave me a bottle of apple juice and informed me that my requested station assistance was ready to guide me from the train to the exit of the station.

It was lovely to walk into a quiet station (being 7:10 on a Tuesday morning). The rail assistance asked me where I was heading and asked if I needed help getting a taxi, I politely informed him that I was going to head to my hotel to drop off my case and enable Fizz to stretch her paws along The River Clyde.

Because thanks to more support on social media and google maps I knew all I had to do was walk toward the river and then along it for 19 minutes to reach my base for the next day and a half.  The Glasgow Crowne Plaza.

TO BE CONTINUED …

The start of an adventure – But first … London.

When opportunity presents itself, take its hand and let it lead you beyond your comfort zone.

A fellow VI friend informed me of an upgrade available to me as a guide dog owner to sleep in a cabin overnight on a train for the cost of a seated ticket.

The Caledonian Sleeper from London to Scotland gave me just such opportunity.  So in planning a trip I had hoped to take with my CPiC I booked a trip from London to Glasgow.

A journey which soon gave me the option to either cancel or put on my ‘big girl pants on’ to go alone….

Cancelling wasn’t really ever an option, as I would loose money not only on tickets, but on rooms already booked; plus my pure stubborn nature wouldn’t allow it.  So I decided to go alone (with my guiding girl Fizz) and a new plan was made.

London to Glasgow was recommended to me as Edinburgh was hosting The Fringe Festival.

So my plan started to come together.  I would travel to London on Monday, to catch the 23.20 sleeper out of Euston to Glasgow.

Monday was my day to explore London.

London is somewhere I have been many times before, however with my suitcase I wanted to stay close to Euston.  But just getting there wasn’t so simple.

Having used Euston Tube station as an interchange before for the northern line I was aware that it only had escalator access to street level.  So I made the brave (slightly silly) decision to get the tube to Kings Cross and walk back to Euston.

The walk was the easy bit, but the different lifts and levels of Kings Cross was a bit of a ‘challenge’ to say the least.  But one I achieved on my own.  The opportunity was there to ask for assistance, but I chose to put my problem solvcing hat on and just ‘get on with it’  Afterall, I have been to Kings Cross before and if in my mind if i couldn’t handle the tube, how would I manage Glasgow?

Hitting Kings Cross also gave me the opportunity to work out a green space for Fizz because with planned engineering works at Euston at the weekend, we would be returning to Kings Cross.  Thanks to the power of social media, I was made aware of a flower bed to the side of the station.

The flower bed was in fact right beside The British Library, a building that has always fascinated me.  So with time to kill I took the opportunity to go in.

WOW …..

The security staff were amazing, from explaining the bag search, to using a body scan wand on me and Fizz and continuing to explain it all to me; to then walking us down the ramps to the cloakrooms so I could have my suitcase stored while I explored.

Sadly there were no large print maps available, but as I explained to the staff that I used my phone as a magnifier they quickly radioed through to the other room attendants and security to make them aware that

“the blonde haired woman with the black guide dog who is deafblind has permission to use her phone as an aid to assist her, she isn’t taking photos, but simply magnifying the signs to enable her to enjoy her visit.’

This made me feel so very welcome and enabled me to enjoy my visit; while breaking down barriers for other visitors, who stopped to ask me how I was managing with the maps and signage.

I never went to look at the books (I do want to do this, but think it would be much easier with a sighted assistant) I purely went to look at the building…. The way the levels are open, the way the skylights are positioned, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Photograph shows the stripped skylights that run parallel to each other in a triangular flat roof of The British Library

Photograph shows rounded stairwells and the skylights again from inside The British Library

I enjoyed the fact that I could sit on each level, watch the world go by and enjoy the different ways in which other people used the space.

Because despite my failing sight, I love to read and I have always had a fascination with libraries.  So for a few hours after I explored the space I sat down with a comfy spot for Fizz and read my latest book. (Which is for another blog in the future)

This was just the calming and relaxed start to my adventure I needed before I met up with a climbing friend for a late supper.

We sat and talked, we ate, we drank and then realised this is the first time we have ever met outside of a climbing wall or competition setting.

And before I knew it, it was time to catch my train.

I felt nervous.

I felt excited.

I felt exhausted.

So, with a quick stop at Starbucks I went to find the assisted travel desk to board my train.

TO BE CONTINUED …

The Weekend that almost wasn’t

Those of you who have been following me for some time will know one of my mantra to life is:

Have dog, will travel.

And with this mantra in place and a connection made through the power of Facebook, when a fun social event that would be followed up by an information and tech based learning event popped up; I found myself booking a hotel and myself for an evening with an Amy Whinehouse Tribute act.

The Facebook connection was that with the talented Molly, The founder and inspirational woman behind The Molly Watt Trust, along with the younger company of Molly Watt Ltd.

With my (relitively) recent hearing loss, I had used my ability to connect through Facebook to link with groups that supported those known as ‘deafblind’.

Having made contact with Molly at the beginning of my blogger journey, along with having a guide dog connection with her I had taken more of an interest in the work of The Molly Watt Trust and found myself naturally drawn toward them with my increasing issues around my sight and hearing loss.

So, when this weekend came up to join in on a ‘social’ and learning based opportuity arrived.  I jumped at it.

THE PLANNING COMMENCED……

What type of journey would it take to get from my own home town to Maidenhead?

And from the station to the hotel?

The hotel that was hosting the dinner on the Friday and the Ushers day on the Saturday was on hotels.com, so I booked my room and set about not having to worry about travelling between venues.

The price was right and would save me additional travel; it was all falling into place …..

……. Or so I thought!

I was looking forward to the event and had everything in place, so now it was just a case of picking which shoes to pack to go with my dress.

After all, not having to go out of the hotel other than to allow Fizz to spend meant I could pack the hot pink heels without the worry of walking any great distance in them.  Not because I can’t walk in heels.  Rather I prefer to be in flat comfortable trainers if I am walking in an area I am not aware of, or in the dark, where I find more difficulty than I do if it were daylight.

Come September 15th my case was packed, my train ticket was collected and off with Fizz, we were on our way.

And then came the first of our hurdles…… Reading Railway Station!

This station is something from a futuristic movie; a large metallic, vast and somewhat oversized pedestrian gangway, which is accessed via long escalators (and multipul lifts) to enable you to walk safely away from the trains to any one of the stations many many platforms.

Yet without a clear indicator as to which train leaves from which platform.  And more importantly because I am well aware I may have missed the obvious large screens giving this information I need I couldn’t find any members of staff!

I only managed to find staff on the actual platforms as and when a train arrived.  Not ideal, as some of the staff I found actually arrived and were set to depart with the train….. So couldn’t direct me around the station.

It was ok though, I wasn’t going to let this get to me, I had managed to find Starbucks on my travels around the station, so when I found the platform and train I needed it was time to grab a nice coffee for me and a bowl of water for Fizz while we waited.

We (Fizz and I) arrived at Maidenhead and out came Google Maps.

It was at this point I realised my error.

The Thames Riviera Hotel (where the dinner and information day were occurring) was not The Thames Hotel I had in fact booked my room for the night!

They were so very close, just a short 5 minute walk along The Thames between the two, yet they were very different hotels.

This was when panic started to kick in.

How could I have made such a simple mistake?

How had I got it SO wrong?

A quick message in a Facebook group about the event and I was calmed.  I could do this.  I am a grown woman; who just happens to have an eye condition and hearing condition that may make life a little more of a challenge at times.

But I am strong and independent.  Who just happened to have a blip.  That was all it was…. a simple blip.  I had come so far, the hotel was already paid for, it would be silly to turn around and go home now……. Right?

So, as I said before.  On went Google Maps and off I went.

With hearing aids in place, I had to rely on holding my phone to hear the directions, while trying to keep out of the bright sunshine to roughly follow the blue line.

I didn’t even realise my first error with this.

Maidenhead Railway Station has 2 exits.  And I found myself leaving via the small, unassuming exit.

The second error came when I misheard a direction.

While walking alongside busy traffic I was sure the direction had been to walk forward.  Sadly, it hadn’t.  It had been to turn right.  And by the time I had realised my error, in true Google Maps programming, my route had been recalculated.

A walk that saw me walking along an almost non-existent path beside a dual-carriageway.  Walking into a multi story car park attached to a local Sainsburys store to find a foot bridge to cross the aforementioned carriageway.

A footbridge that landed me by a leisure centre and bowling alley just as the rain started to get heavy.

I bit the bullet, I went into the bowling alley and collected the telephone number for a local taxi.  Upon calling the firm, I explained my location and where I wanted to go, no problem a car could be with me within a few minutes.  So I kindly mention I have my guide dog travelling with me; that was when suddenly a car would not be available for almost forty minutes.

So, I gave up on the idea of a taxi and returned to my trusted phone and four-pawed companion to find the hotel.

This was a journey that took us another twenty-five minutes and a desperate plea to my best friend for help and linking my location on Google Maps to his Google Maps; and an hour after we had left to station to walk the seventeen minutes to the hotel, we arrived.

Both Fizz and I were damp (actually that was an understatement)

The doorman at the hotel instantly took control.

He collected my case and walked us to our room.

He commented on my damp dog (which I instantly apologised for), which he would hear nothing about.  He left us for only a few moments, before returning with an armful of towels.  He explained that these towels were clean, yet had lost their crisp white finish, so were no longer used for the guests……. But would be absolutely perfect to rub down my soggy dog with and give her a comfortable soft bed to dry off on.

This was too much, I managed to thank him before closing the door and collapsing in tears on the floor.  The anxiety of the day was taking its toll. But with a nudge from Fizz (I like to think as her ways of asking if I was ok.) I realised it was all going to be alright.

A conversation with my best friend put my mind at ease regards the hotel I was staying at and the hotel I was set to attend for dinner.  A dinner for which I was going to wear hot pink heels, that I would not feel comfortable walking outside (For the reasons I mentioned above)

What was stopping me wearing my trainers on the walk, with my ‘pretty shoes’ in my bag?  The answer….. Nothing.

This time, I not only looked on Google Maps for the direction, but I used Google Street View to actually walk the route virtually between the two hotels, a very straight five minute walk along the river, passing a park (perfect for spending Fizz) before crossing a large road to get to the hotel.

This time (although I would be walking in ‘twilight’) I was not leaving anything to chance!  Although, I did feel like I was taking my and Fizz’s life in my hands by crossing the road infront of the hotel, a road that was also one of the large bridges across The Thames River.

The rest of the evening passed with a blur of fun, entertainment and enjoyment, of putting faces to names and adding new friends into my life to enrich it.

I did wear my trainers for the walk; quickly changing upon arriving at the RIGHT hotel!  Switching them out again before leaving at the end of the evening.  One of the benefits of going to an event with others who have sight issues, is that such incidents are easier to hide.

I returned to my hotel, for a very comfortable and refreshing sleep, ready to return after breakfast for the chance to chat, chance to learn and more importantly, chance to find support and similarities with others going through their sight and hearing loss journey.

…………………………..

The walk The Riviera Hotel to the railway station was minus the difficulties of the previous day.  I even found the point where I had taken the wrong turn.  The turn that had caused so much anxiety.

Although the train journey home wasn’t without an interesting twist either!  That I found easier to write about at the time and you can read about it in  The day we caught the train

So, for the weekend that could have easily found me returning home, I discovered just how, as a strong independent (somewhat stubborn) woman, I am also human.  I make mistakes, but I also learned I am not to be so hard on myself.

This weekend did do one thing for me; it confirmed that I had to find a way of being able to channel my phone directly to my ears (as if I were able to wear headphones again)  I am still £4,000 away from the ‘ideal’ ReSound hearing aids I am fundraising for.  But there has to be an interim answer, isn’t there?

 

 

,

Blindly following Google

When your climbing partner in crime suggest meeting him from work for an evening of climbing, what is a gal to do?

Other than to find out where the closest coffee shop is, and how you can get to it. As it would be an evening of climbing, the ‘have dog will travel’ attitude was altered to ‘have cane will travel’.

Train journey, easy, no problem.

Bus journey, not so easy, but still no problem.

Hedge End (where the CPiC works) has a tiny train station, yet within a short distance there are mammoth superstores of every possible concept. While other coffee places are available, I set my sights on hitting Starbucks, mainly because it has a simple pull up and park location right next to the motorway junction in the direction of Calshot.

Which in fact meant that it had a ‘quirky’ navigation on Google Maps.

The bus stop is placed directly outside the station, the bus was scheduled to tie in with the train arriving. Pure brilliance!

The bus however did not have an audio-visual display. It did have an incredibly friendly and happy to help driver, who ensured me he would notify me of my stop.

So off we went……. And sure enough, the driver true to his word, told me when we had arrived at my stop, he even explained the direction I needed to walk to arrive at Marks and Spencer’s (the major store that afforded its own bus stop!). He also waited until he had ensured I was walking in the right direction before continuing with his journey.

Only; I didn’t want to go the Marks and Spencer’s. I wanted Starbucks. Which as the crow flies is directly opposite Marks and Spencer’s (near enough) Simple enough? the only issue was the great big MASSIVE road known as Charles Watts Way – A334.

And this is where I put my faith in my iPhone and Googled my way!

The directions weren’t straight forward, which made me believe that Google was aware of the size of the road and was walking me a safer way, after all how could it possible take 7 minutes to walk such a short distance (when equating walking time, it doesn’t allow for traffic, as it would if you were driving)

So, ironically. I blindly followed its route……

….. A route that saw me walk through Marks and Spencer’s and out the other side, around the outside of Sainsburys and behind it where a worker was having a sneaky cigarette.

Still my map told me to continue, so onward I went. (I must admit, had it not been a bright afternoon, I may have had other thoughts)

Across a short path and …….. BINGO……

I had found it. The reason why Google maps was telling me it was 7 minutes.

Because in front of me was a rusty cream rail, a thin metal grate on the floor and the key to crossing Charles Watts Way.

It was the ramp, that twisted around in a loose corkscrew before evolving into a long straight path with a slight gradient for several steps, before flattening out and then rising again. It was a bridge.

In the warm sun, the shadows create by the overhanging trees made it hard to make out just how simple and easy it was to navigate.

It was a time to put my trust into my cane, because with the light; the shadows cast and the uncertainty of where I was, I felt apprehensive. I needn’t have; it really was as smooth and easy as I explained it to be.

And before I knew it, I was walking across the top of the bridge, right above all the traffic queuing beneath me. And then I was back into the shadows and the long straight declining path. Turning just once, 180 degrees to walk a similar distance again before coming to a small offset railings, a quick weave and I was on the path beside that very same traffic that I had just walked over. (I didn’t hear it moving!)

A short distance ahead and I could feel the path changing, this time it was much smoother, yet paved, not tarmac as it had previously been. I couldn’t home in on much, because although the trees were cut back, their shadows were replaced by bright glaring sun.

Faithful cane soon told me I was reaching a curb edge, the tactile paving soon enabled me to place myself in the right direction, a small road across the car park and low and behold…….

 

…………Starbucks.

Technology Sees’ Everything

I would say that I am a tech reliant vip. The reason for this is because I don’t go anywhere without my iPhone, iPad and headphones. No I am not an apple geek, but I am reliant on google maps, street view and up to the minute travel planning such as ‘Travel line’, ‘National Rail’ and even local weather, all of which have fabulous little app’s.

When travelling somewhere new, I am meticulous at planning my route, my first port of call is The Travel Line, where all I need to do is put in a start and end point. I can even put the time I either want to leave, or arrive by. It will then come up with a list of travel options for me that include walking, buses, ferries, coaches and trains. This is where I can ‘tweak’ it to my preferences, for example, I can put the maximum time I am happy to walk between other transport. I can even view the route on a map, which is animated to show me through the whole trip, with icons for walking, buses, ferries and trains. Which I can zoom in on the work out.

If I am travelling by train, I can then check up on all the information that I need via the National Rail app. The reason I check this too, is because it will break the information down even further. It will list each of the stops that the train will make, it will also tell me which platform the train departs from and arrives on…. This is particularly handy if I need to change trains at a station, as I can navigate much more by myself without additional assistance. (although if I need it, I will ask for help from the station staff)

I will plan my route from home and then take ‘screen shots’ of the information or even save the travel details to my calendar, just incase I have no internet access via wifi or 3g on my travels.

When planning my route, lines on a map do nothing for me. So I am an avid fan of googles ‘street view’ this enables me to visualise the route from a bus stop, along a walk or even find short cuts, that the route planners may not show.

This is of course only as good as the information that has been recorded, for example if I street view my own house, I see the driveway in its old position, not it’s actually how it is now.

But as the map navigation is continually updated, I (as yet) haven’t become completely stuck because of it.

An example of this was earlier this week, when I had to visit the Southampton offices for Guide Dogs. An office that is a ‘tad’ out of the way for guide dog owners.

So I planned my route at home, based on the time that I needed to arrive, then to allow for delays, followed the details for the slightly earlier journey.

Which in this instant was needed.

Having navigated to the train station and from there to the bus stop needed in southampton, I even asked for assistant from the people at the stop with me, to help with the bus I needed. As a major calling point all of the other buses that came to the stop all pulled in. My bus didn’t and the person who said they would help me, did help, but only to tell me that the bus had driven straight past!

So, out came my phone to check the time of the next bus from the stop I was at…. And it wouldn’t be for another hour. So the Costa next to the stop enabled me to piggyback on wifi (as it is faster than 3g, which I would have used if no wifi was available)

Thankfully, there was another bus that would take me to Chilworth where the office is situated. It was however, 15 minutes walk from where I was, in an area of Southampton that I wasn’t familiar with. So, out came the headphones and on when google maps.

I was able to navigate and instruct Vicky my guide dog without having to look at my phone at all.

I have ‘over ear’ headphones so that I can comfortably listen to information that I need, and have one ear free to hear my surroundings. Plus I have never been a fan of in-ear as I find them too good at noise cancelling and also, quite uncomfortable as my ears are quite sensitive.

So, with my bit of tech I was able to find my way to the other bus. Once getting on, having double checked the number and that it stopped where I wanted imagine my surprise and relief when the driver said ” my bus has audio, so you will know when we are approaching your stop.”

There is an Eclipse route between Fareham and Gosport that has audio on it, just like you get only trains! But I wasn’t aware of other services or even other bus companies were using it.

So instead of having to rely on my iPhone and it’s apps, I would just sit back, relax and listen for my destination.

Audio announcements on buses is a major plus for many people, not just us VIPs, it works for people who are unfamiliar to the area or those travelling in the dark. Because, unlike trains you can’t count the stops on a bus as the bus does t always stop!!

So, with the help of all this tech I am able to gain even greater independence, without having to fully rely on others, I can also use public transport instead of more expensive taxis thanks to free apps that are available for smartphone and iPhone users alike.

 

 

 

 

Page Reader Press Enter to Read Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Pause or Restart Reading Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Stop Reading Page Content Out Loud Screen Reader Support
%d bloggers like this: