Interview with Gemma from the Wheelescapades blog

We’re doing something different this week. I’ve got the first in a series of interviews with you from some of my blogger friends. I wanted to introduce you to them and their blogs, and I also wanted to get some conversations going about disability and accessibility, bringing in some different perspectives.

I’ve been following Gemma’s blog for a while. I can’t remember how I initially found her – I think it was a blogging group, but I enjoy reading her blog – not just because she enjoys cheese as much as I do, but because her blog makes me smile, and it also makes me think. I hadn’t considered some of the access issues that wheelchair users face on a day-to-day basis. Ok, I guess we can all think of how the lack of step-free access is a dealbreaker if you want to go somewhere, but Gemma has also got me thinking about things like the height of product displayss, and how the type of table at a restaurant can affect how accessible it is to use. (As a guide dog owner, I wasn’t a fan of those ones with the big round base either, but I’d never considered the problems they cause if you want to wheel right up to it).

Having said that, although many of our experiences and accessibility frustrations are different, there’s a lot that we have in common. Just wanting to be able to do the same things as our friends without having to plan everything in advance, or the frustration of jumping through extra hoops to get the same results. The assumtions that our friends are our carers, and the fact that we would love to see a world where we didn’t need to talk about accessibility and inclusion as much because they were built in to the design, not an afterthought.

So anyway, that’s enough from me – here are Gemma’s answers to my questions. Be sure to check her blog out as well.

1. What is the name of your blog and how did you come to decide on that name?

Wheelescapades is the name of my blog, one word. Although too many people like to refer to it as Wheel Escapades. It took me long enough to combine the two words (as you can see how creative it is. Ha!), so I do get frustrated.

The origin is fairly straightforward. Wheel – I’m a wheelchair user. Escapades – a type of adventure. Basically my life.

2. Why did you start writing a blog?

I’d considered blogging for quite a while before I plucked up the courage and took the plunge. I’ve never written anything in my life, that wasn’t essays in education and one line stories as a kid. Though I did want to be a journalist as a teen.

Friends had often joked that I should write about the dramas of my life, our social life. Dramas that mainly happened because of my wheels. Getting stuck in lifts, turning up at restaurants to find I’ve been seated up a step. ‘Oh it’s ok, we’ll help you up, lift your wheelchair’. No you won’t.

People assume my friends are carers, that they’re doing a good deed. They think that I cannot reply myself when asked if I enjoyed my meal. They ask the person with me ‘would you like a bag with that?’. I’ve got my own.

I wanted to raise awareness of disability and accessibility. That we are all just people with the same needs and dreams. I wanted to do this as a human, with a life and a personality. I wanted to make people think but laugh. I hope I do that.

3. If you could change one law to improve life for people with disabilities, what would it be?

I don’t even know where to start.

The Equality Act 2010 states that venues should ‘make reasonable adjustments’ to enable equal access for all. This is a start, but not enough. Who decides what reasonable is?

I long for a world I can access without thinking, without planning. I aim for spontaneity.

What would be great is if all venues and events had to state their accessibility online. I mean the finer details. No step. Step height. Door width. Lift. Lift size. Does it actually work. Accessible bathroom. Size. Facilities. Table height. Steps inside. Corridor width. Length.

This may seem trivial or picky, but this information would make a huge difference to the planning of my day. Because planning is a huge part of being disabled.

4. A friend is coming over for a relaxing evening. What will you be doing/eating/drinking/watching?

I’m not much of an evening person. More of a daytime socialiser. This will be a mid afternoon chill involving tea and cake.

I’m a Netflix binger, so whatever the latest drama season is will be our entertainment.

5. What’s something that you’ve learned since becoming a blogger?

I’ve learned that there are good people out there. Social media can be such an intimidating and judgemental place. The blogging community though, I’ve met some great people with so much support, motivation and kindness.

I’ve also learned I can have my say. Sometimes people find it interesting or useful, sometimes people can relate, sometimes they don’t.

I’ve learned I have a need to write.

6. If you could do any job for a day, what would it be and why?

This is a question that comes up in converse throughout life. I’ve always answered along the lines of Artist, Designer, Journalist. Something creative. Those are real jobs I’d love to do.

Recently I’ve thought a bit more about this, outside of my box a little. I’ve decided I’d choose to be an astronaut. Not only would going to space be pretty cool, but I’d like to know what it feels like to move my limbs freely. To be weightless.

I cannot lift my arms at all without support, so the idea of maybe scratching my head would be awesome.

7. What’s one thing you would like people to know about your disability, or people who have the same access needs as you?

I want people to be aware of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I want them to know it’s not all about the wheels, but also it’s not the end of the world.

SMA means that I’m a wheelchair user, but it’s not the wheels I struggle with. It’s the weakness, the limited movement, the breathing difficulties.

Oh and people’s assumptions.

8. When was the last time you tried something new, and what was it?

I’ve not been very adventurous of late. But who knew chilli cheese hot cross buns could be a thing? An amazing thing that you all must try.

It’s not super recent, but last year I tried audiobooks for the first time ever. A whole new world of reading.

9. What does accessibility mean to you?

In obviously, daily life terms, it means ramps, wide doors, level pavements, working lifts, spacious rooms, hoists,

But really it means having equal access. Not being an afterthought. Not having to find a side entrance, traipse through a kitchen to get to a restaurant table. It means having a bathroom I can fit in that isn’t used as a storage cupboard.

In basic terms it means the ability to forget I’m disabled for a while.

10. What activities make you lose track of time?

Anything creative.

I studied Art, Craft and Textiles at university to Masters Degree. I used to sew with my Nan and make stuff with old boxes. I’ve always enjoyed making something from nothing. Turning balls of wool into stuffed animals. Skeins of thread into cushion covers.

11. What’s one blog post (written by you) that you would like people to read?

I most enjoy writing my ‘If We Were Having Coffee’ posts as I get to have a little chat and rant about what’s going on in my life, disability related and not. Readers can get to know me a little better and chat back about what’s going on with them.

The one I think should be read though, is one of my most recent. I wrote this piece for Disabled Access Day. I feel access is misunderstood and thought to be either as simple as putting in a ramp, or so unachievable that it’s mind boggling.

12. Can you think of one or two bloggers that you think my readers should check out in addition to your blog?

Two of my greatest blogging pals.

Lorna at Gin & Lemonade. A fellow wheelchair user that often writes just what I’m thinking, but better than I think it.

And Caz at Invisibly me, whose posts are informative with a sprinkling of fun.

Places to find me

Wheelescapades Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

Thanks Gemma for answering my questions – it’s been great to find out a bit more about you.

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I have been interviewed on the Wheel Escapades blog

Today I’d like to share something from Gemma’s blog – Wheel Escapades.

Gemma interviewed me for her disability-related 20 question series. You can check out the interview here, and don’t forget to have a look at Gemma’s other articles while you’re there – especially if you’re interested in tea, accessibility, and travel.

I think it’s really good to follow other blogs and learn about people’s accessibility needs that are different from our own.

In other news, don’t forget that my Summer giveaway is still open – so why not have a look and enter if you haven’t already. The giveaway is international and it’s open until 15thJuly 2018.

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If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

Blog of the month – the Emma Edit

So, it’s time for the next instalment of my “Blogger of the month” series and today I’m talking to Emma from the Emma Edit. I got to know Emma’s posts through her Blogs in Bloom Facebook group, and she writes on a wide range of topics from food to homeware to travel posts. It was also Emma who gave me the idea for the chocolate subscription! Here are Emma’s answers to my questions:

1. What’s the link for your blog and how would you describe it in a couple of sentences?

You can find me here.
I started my blog over a year ago now, my, how time flies! I could never decide on a niche for my blog, so I decided to blog about a wide range of topics that are of interest to me. My favourite things to write about include: beauty, blogging tips, fashion, lifestyle, out and about and recipes- phew!

2. Have you always enjoyed writing, or did you only start recently?

I used to enjoy writing a lot when I was a teenager; I remember I used to love writing poetry and short stories. My blog is the only thing I write at the moment, though.

3. What’s one of your favourite posts from your blog, and why?

Can I pick more than one, please? My favourite posts are titled ‘My Home: One Year On’ and ‘Holiday In Ibiza’ because they are the most personal to me- they are really nice to look back on as they bring back memories.

4. How do you make sure that you don’t run out of ideas? Where do you get most of your inspiration?

I had an almost blogging break in February because we all run out of inspiration sometimes. If you feel like you need a break, have one- it will benefit you more in the long-run. But apart from that, a friend and other bloggers inspire me to keep going.

5. What would you say is the best thing about blogging?

As a person who’s never really had a hobby before, I’m proud to say my blog is my hobby!

6. What’s one of your most popular posts? Why do you think people liked it so much?

My most popular post is the one where I talk about my Facebook group, Blogs In Bloom; this post is most popular because I upload it once a month to reach new followers. I have a haul post which includes homeware, beauty and fashion items- this is my 2nd most viewed post.

7. If you were asked to put together a beauty and lifestyle box with 4 products inside, which favourite items would you put in?

It’s so difficult just to pick 4 items! 1) a cute leather purse, 2) Benefit Roller Lash Mascara 3) a fancy candle 4) Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser.

8. What’s one thing you wouldn’t have done or learned if you hadn’t started a blog?

Honestly, I have already learnt so much along the way with this blogging journey! Even just learning how to use WordPress is an achievement on its own.

9. Have you ever bought anything because a blogger was talking about it?

Good question! I always read blog posts by others and lust over the pictures, and appreciate a good write up. I have a mental wishlist, but I don’t think I have bought anything recommended by a blogger- yet!

10. What type of posts do you most enjoy writing? What type of posts do you find hard to write?

I love working with brands, but I find those posts most difficult to write because I want everything to be just right. My favourite posts to write are lifestyle and spontaneous posts that you can’t wait to write.

11. Have you read any good books lately?

Reading is definitely a seasonal activity for me that I like to do in the summer- you can’t beat taking a book outside in the sun! I’m a sucker for a girly love story, so I loved reading Me Before You by JoJo Moyes last summer.

12. Online shopping or going to the shops – which do you prefer and why?

I like to browse online, but I like to make my purchases in store. It’s just nice to get out of the house, isn’t it?

13. What’s a trend that you think should stay in 2017 – something you hope will go away this year?

I honestly know nothing about trends, so I can’t answer this question- sorry!

14. If you were in a hurry and only had time to apply 3 make-up products, what would they be?

For me, it’s got to be: 1) eyebrow pencil, 2) mascara, 3) liquid lipstick

15. What do you need for the perfect night in?

I love a night in (every night!). A relaxing bath, a glass of wine, chocolate, music and candles make a night in perfect for me.

16. What’s one thing that you would like to do this year?

When the weather warms up, I am going to be on a mission to get out and about and visit lots of new places.

Thanks Emma for answering my questions and I enjoyed getting to know you a bit better through this post.

Don’t forget to check out Emma’s blog, and for those of you who are bloggers, I can definitely recommend her group. It’s one of the most friendly places on the internet when it comes to bloggers getting together, encouraging, and helping each other out.

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The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping deals or discounts that I think my readers might like.