Well it’s that time again, the infamous holiday blog, we had a few issues to contend with along the way but would you expect anything else.
So this year we went back to Tunisia, the same hotel we went to in 2015 and had a great time, Last time I could transfer, which made life somewhat easier, but you all know easy is not a word we do, anyway on with the show.
As normal everything had been planned, TUI and Emerald at the Kingwood branch in Hull were brilliant in organising everything, special assistance at Doncaster, Tunisia and the reps. We opted to go in an adapted taxi as with a late arrival on the return everyone will be tired, I hear you think sensible, hold that thought because it never happens again. We used our mate at Hull Travel services, Geordie Lee, top bloke, on time with a van big enough to fit our entire luggage in, yep 8 cases including the big hoist box. We hired a shower chair however after receiving an email saying it could not be delivered to the resort as promised, the only option was to take the travel version with us. I now recommend you don’t take the one we took; chocolate fire guard springs to mind. Well we arrived in good time so should be a breeze, err no. Instructions were on arrival ring special assistance, so did that no answer, tried a few more times but no. So Kirsty my carer who hasn’t been away with us before. I don’t think she knew what to expect, went in to find some help. Kirsty is fairly lively and likes to make words up, she will say it is Scottish but I’m not convinced, either way don’t piss her off, she went to the desk, the very one she rung, to speak to the woman sat there, hi we have special assistance booked, could you help with luggage and checking in as we have a lot of medical equipment. It was a teeth dryer moment, like the one that the mechanic does when they are about to give you a bad verdict on your car repair, Ooo no we don’t that, well who does? We only help the person, well he has an electric wheelchair, oh well you won’t need us, so what about the luggage? , we don’t help with that, hay cent to add Kirsty was pissed off. We got the luggage inside, Liz worked her magic, I say that but probably threatened to report the going on to Look North. Result, two people sauntered over, they eventually summed the energy to move some of the case. Check in, medical equipment had been clarified including weights prior to arrival. Long and short of it, they wanted £900, on the blower to TUI, the situation was resolved swiftly lol. On to the plane by way of a pro sling (sling that 4 people lift you in) this was actually quite good. 3 hour flight not bad to be fair. Got bum ache but found a cure so more lately.
Tunisia airport oh what fun, 1 hour on the plane while they figure out what to do with my chair , it won’t go so let’s rag it, hang on mate that’s my legs, sorry we don’t care , sums it up. While they ran around trying to find my chair , one of them asked Kirsty to carry all the bags while he pushed me, Kirsty took a disliking to him, which was made worse by his simple fact he kept tapping his watch saying I finished , I think the taggart phrase of “There’s bin a murder “Just about covers it. Delay meant our luggage would arrive approximately 2 hours after us at the hotel. Hurray they found my chair, complete with seriously bent leg, should be used to it by now, anyway pointless arguing about it, it was clocking off time! The wheelchair vehicle that arrived looked no more like a wav than a ford galaxy, Sole reason they don’t have a transit size wheelchair vehicle, really! You drive in Sir, 12ft ramp straight in the boot wtf clearly was never going to fit. No option of another vehicle. not a problem., someone who will remain anonymous said why don’t we use the mobile hoist to put me in the middle as it had side door , it was a bit higher than the hoist but with a shove I was in , head rest off quick nudge and a wink and the wheelchair was in , including hoist but no case. TUI rep put the luggage on next bus as no room. So we made it in one piece.
On with the holiday, we pretty much went straight to bed and decided to start fresh in the morning. So I will spare you the blow by blow account and skip to the good bits.
First was get my wheelchair straightened, so Kirsty and I enlisted a rep, we then got him to find a member of hotel maintenance, the language barrier was an issue but after a lot of noises and pointing he went of with my leg and seriously bent leg hanger, I have extensive knowledge of these, I will have bent in excess of 15. Eventually he came back with a straighter leg hanger that would last the holiday.
Prior to the holiday I had a friend rig up a smart phone gimbal on my chair, with a Bluetooth mouse I could take pictures and videos, I had over looked one crucial fact, the sun, the very reason we went would stop me. However it appears that I managed to take a slow motion video of Liz getting out the pool, this was a miracle as I couldn't see the screen, My carer found it Whilst taking some pictures for me , she didn’t believe me till she tried to take pictures but couldn’t see the screen either.
The room keys were cards which kept refusing to work; it became customary to get it reprogrammed every time we went to the room. Off course by the second day reception were becoming annoyed, so on several occasions we sent a small person.
The evening entertainment was rather amusing as the children’s part of the entertainment always had a dance in that appeared to always be the same song, this happens to be Liz’s ring tone so now when Liz’s phone rings it’s time to dance.
As I mentioned earlier we went to the same hotel, back then there was a lifeguard called Momo, along with I love you, this was the extent of his English vocabulary. We have moved on now to include potato, diamond gizer, wassup and okey dokey. He didn’t recognise us but we showed him a picture from 4 years ago, he was quite taken back. it appears that Lilly has started chatting lads up already lol.
There were issues around my communication but I will talk about this in another post.
The girls made some new friends while we were there, including some baby Tortoises; they managed to convince Momo to look after them for a night. They feed them lettuce and grapes from the snack bar, so now they want one as well as the snake Lilly got for her 8th birthday.
Action, what exciting pursuits did we get up to, first of was Camel riding; now I opted out of this because there just isn’t the adapted transport available. But the girls loved it, also they got to ride a rather frisky pony and drink some Tunisian tea.
A summer holiday isn’t complete without a swim in the pool, I am no exception. It might be a surprise but Liz has mastered the art of getting me in the pool with a bit of help. Mo our mobile hoist is great. Simply lower me on to the edge of the pool and lift me in from there. Keeping me upright is interesting as my feet like to float. We use 3 woggles which support me well. It’s fantastic to just be in an upright position.
Poppy is clearly like me as she got to go on a banana boat pulled by a speed boat. Liz, Lilly and Poppy went on a big rubber mattress pulled along by a speed boat, all you could hear was Lilly screaming , I would like to point out Lilly did ask to go on. I completed my wish to do parasailing, as always health and safety doesn’t exist in Tunisia, bit like Turkey. So I got as close as I could to the take off site and four men carried me the short distance , I would like to point out that last time I took off from a boat , this time it was on a beach. The video tells the story, but what it doesn’t say is how it felt. They wanted me to go with one of them but I was going with my wife. Once off the ground the feeling of being stretched out in a vertical position was awesome. It is not often I can do that, it was so quiet up there and it’s one of the few things I can do which doesn’t matter if you’re able bodied or not.
To be honest it was nice to get away and not have to do anything and leave life’s troubles behind.
But as with all good things they must end. We managed to squeeze in some last minute sun bathing and a dip in the pool. You will be pleased to know they do have transit sized vans in Tunisia and they sent one. The bad news was to get in I would need to get up a 12ft ramp. I needed a shove but got in. On the continuing theme of no health and safety, I was left to float around the back of the van, no problem they say lol. On arrival at the airport it was time to get out, for some reason I prefer going up to coming down, so with the drivers assistance I started to come down backwards. For some reason the chair didn’t want to, I suspect there is an angle sensor and I exceeded the safe level, what a surprise. So the driver decided to try and shake / rock my chair while I was about 80cm of the floor. Now I am not sure how as my voice is about knackered but I shouted “Stop” and everyone did stop which actually surprised me, anyway I managed to come down on my own. Everyone was on best behaviour as the security guard had a big gun. Assistance was far better and we sailed in, however that was the end of the good luck. They wanted me out of my chair and into a manual one, but we had 2 hours to wait and the manual one has no head support and to this day every manual chair ends up with my knees by my ears, no idea why because the last time I stood I was 5ft 10, not very tall. Anyway they let me stay in my chair for another hour but weren’t allowed through passport control. The guy dealing with all this was there when we came and remembered Poppy , strangely enough he let her have his radio so she started talking to whoever was listening , oh this is the same guy that Kirsty didn’t like and was clocking off , need I say anymore about the jokes. Later we found him to change chairs and despite Liz’s clear instructions for the chair he immediately disconnected the controller, I said to Liz how will he move it, she asked him and he said it is fine. So off we went to the gate, fairly quick. Mr Clock off is there before us, Liz asked if the chair was on the plane, oh yes madam. So we get to the door of the plane, a ground lady questions the spare battery for my ventilation machine, I have to take it but never use it. This went on for a few minutes till the head stewardess said what is the problem? The women started waving the battery so the stewardess took the battery and said it is fine and got on the plane. Two men lifted me on, remember the sore bum? I had Liz check on the flight out, if the plane seat bases came off and they do. I had my seat of my wheelchair brought with us and it fitted like a glove, no sorer bum. On the plane, comfy and chair on. Magic. Till the opposite row of passengers says what they doing with that wheelchair? Liz has a look, same time as a ground staff member (English) comes on to say they can’t get the chair on. Captain even said well it came. Liz ended up getting a high viz jacket on and sorting it out. Finally we set off home. It never fails to amaze me how one wheelchair can baffle so many people.
We had a fantastic holiday and we would like to thank Tui and Emerald for their hard work and commitment to making sure we had a great time, also to the Masonic charitable foundation for their help.