Wheelchairs and mud
Using a manual wheelchair means the wheels are narrow so they sink easily. Having absorbed that fact early on I don’t usually make mistakes nowadays.
On outdoor audits I try for dry days; I’ll look for ruts and footprints in the dry mud and work out how bad it would be on a wet day. Sounds like I know what I’m doing but I can still be caught out.
I once arrived for an official conference during my early days working in Calderdale – it was very wet, but I thought the car park would be tarmacked. Wrong!
I thought there would be empty designated parking spaces at the entrance. Wrong!
I ended up parking in the mud at the back of the car park, got out in the mud, pushed through the mud to the entrance, and looked and felt like a dirty drowned rat when I eventually got inside. Not the best start to the afternoon!
My worst mud experiences….
My worst mud experiences by far happened as a parent when I took my rugby fanatic son to junior rugby matches and training. From Under 9’s to Under 16’s, (that’s eight seasons – yes, eight), we had to include a trip to our local club or to a match elsewhere on winter Sundays.
Yes, we experienced excitement! And, we engaged in banter! Yes, we indulged in bacon sandwiches! And yes, we encountered mud, glorious mud!
Being a junior team meant they usually assigned us to the furthest pitch, away from the clubhouse – the one through the underpass, beyond the motorway, past all hope of rescue (don’t ask where the toilet is). I always had pushers, though. “Come on Dad, take your hands off the wheels, trust me.”
I never crashed, but the chair would be covered in mud over the footplates.
The final insult came from my son – immaculate out of the showers in a white shirt and smart tie on match days. However, he would walk into the shower fully clothed in his kit, get undressed in the shower, stuff the sopping kit into a bag, and pass the whole dripping mess to me to wash for next week! Adding insult to injury.
I ruined so many clothes during those days, not to mention the frequent mess in my car.
Thankfully those days are behind me now, or so I thought.
Wheelchair User Tips for Attending a Music Festival
I love attending rock festivals in the summer, but it can be challenging as a wheelchair user. I recently went to Bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank, and the weather was terrible. It rained all night before the festival, and the ground was a sea of mud.
I parked in a muddy field and had to be carried through the entrance gates. I was covered in mud by the time I got to the accessible viewing platform. But I had a great time, thanks to the help of a friendly stranger who offered to push me around.
Here are some tips for wheelchair users who are planning to attend a music festival:
- Check the weather forecast and be prepared for rain or mud.
- Wear comfortable clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Bring a change of clothes and shoes in case you get really muddy.
- Ask about the festival’s accessibility features, such as accessible viewing platforms and toilets.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other festival-goers.
I hope these tips help you have a great time at your next music festival!
My Favourite Mud Story
But my favourite mud story doesn’t involve me directly – a few months ago I was auditing a potential communal garden which was bordered by an open wire fence. Whilst writing some notes I noticed pre-school children playing on the other side of the fence. They’d found an interesting puddle, and were absorbed with buckets and spades. The boys started conversation – why are you in that chair? do your legs work? my Grans got one of them. How fast will it go? The usual. Whilst answering as well as I could I noticed a little girl sitting
in the puddle and using a spade to pour the (very) muddy water down her outstretched arms and onto her (very) white dress! Whilst driving home I couldn’t rid my mind of the image of the loving parents coming to pick up their beloved child in her (once) white dress!
Until next time,
Chris the mudlark