Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How to be a sack of potatoes at the happiest place on earth

So, I'm sitting at heathrow, waiting for that long flight back to Australia, and I thought I should tell you about the day that Walt Disney and I didn't see eye to eye on fun.
Sorry, just got sidetracked when the Polish waitress here at the airport yelled from the counter, "who ordered chicken crap?" Yes, I know she means crepe, but I snorted into my tea anyway.

Right, the Disney-fest started promisingly. 6 of us in line, including me in my wheelchair and Chris with his faux leg. We were just about at the front of the line when we were whipped out to join the 'special line' below a picture of a wheelchair. We got to the window and dutifully reported "2 people with disabilities and 4 others".
To which, she replied, "have you got your papers?"
Me: My what now please?
Her: your papers to prove you are in a wheelchair
Me: ummmm.... I keep that special paper under my ass, in metallic form (ok, I didn't actually say this)
Chris: here's my paper (as he puts his pretend leg up in the air)
She made a few phone calls, and after a while, was satisfied that we were not the world's greatest actors, and did in fact require the equipment we were using. However, we were sent to Disney "city hall" to get official Disney-disability papers.
Off we trotted/wheeled/hopped to city hall, where we went through the same questioning. This time, the lady appeared satisfied with me, but she wasn't too comfortable about Chris' reason of "I have a prosthetic leg". Let's hope it was lost in the translation because when she asked him if his leg would get better, we nearly wet our pants laughing. Then, when he put his leg up in the air, she almost wet herself laughing too!!
She then explained that we couldn't go on some of the rides due to lack of access. Once again, none of us could contain ourselves when she, indicated on the map, looked pointedly at me, and said, "you cannot do Peter Pan" I think they may be words to live by.
So, fresh with our Disney-endorsed disabilities, and a warning not to do Peter Pan, we headed off into walt's creation of plastic, tinsel and dreams (unless you dream of Peter pan).
I have to say that, like the rest of France, wheelchair access is very much an afterthought. As a consequence, there were only a few rides we could do, and we were supposed to book to go on them, so had to space our day out with routine. I didn't go on too many but Chris talked me into going on a roller coaster. He promised to sit beside me and help if I lost my balance. I should have known it was going to end differently when he sat beside me on the little train-thing, pulled down the guard, which didn't hold me in in any way, and then yelled out to the crowd, "look, I have my very own midget!"
The roller coaster climbed, then dipped, then climbed again, turned, spun, dipped, climbed. All the while, my hands were firmly planted on the rails like a male gymnast on the rings, and the rest of me was flipping out of control like a slinky! At the first big corner, Chris grabbed me like he was carting a sack of potatoes and we screamed our way around the ride. So, I have one question: Walt, why the hell did you think that would be fun?
By the way, I only went so I could go on the 'teacups'. They were closed due to an upgrade. I bet they will reopen as the 'cafe latte glasses'.
Speaking of cafe latte, I better go

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Je voudrais un cafe, svp

Bonjour. It's my last full day in Paris, and I'm feeling a little bit holiday-fatigued. When I stop and think about it, I've been busy being a Paralympic spectator, a tourist, a traveller and a visitor everyday for the last four weeks. I'm going to need a little vacation from my vacation. Right now, I'm taking a little respite in a cute patisserie, elegantly stuffing my face with pain au chocolate et cafe creme. Oh la la.
Isn't it always at the last minute that the gold appears? At the next table, commanding a presence, sits the matriarch of Les Invalides, and her dog, Fifi. She has lived in this street for 50 years, and has an opinion on everyone that comes in. When I couldn't decide whether to have a large or small coffee, her immediate response was to lovingly chide me, half in English and half in French, for even thinking of wasting the waitresses time making a small. I had a large.
I understood this double-language conversation because, earlier this week, I spent a few days at a friend's sister's house in the region of Brittany, which immediately became language immersion camp! You see, his languages are Arabic, French, English, and some others that I've forgotten. Her languages are Arabic, French, German and some English. My languages are English....and that's it. It quickly became apparent that our common languages were charades, misinterpreting, nodding like you understand, and laughing until you finally understood. At one point, the cleaner was gossiping, and despite not speaking enough French to understand the words, my female sensitivity allowed me to get the gist of the conversation.... Gossip is the same worldwide. However, when I was sitting in a Tunisian inspired loungeroom, looking out over cathedrals, eating Lebanese food, drinking French coffee, and listening to people speak arabic, with Pakistani jazz playing in the background, I had no idea where I was!! The same feeling returned yesterday, when i took a detour from the Champs Élysées, down a little arcade, and found a stall selling bowls of Pho. I was genuinely surprised to leave the arcade into Paris, not Hanoi.
Since returning from language immersion camp, i have felt a lot more comfortable with my language-butchering skills. Yesterday, i asked a waitress if she spoke english, then quite accidentally, ordered my entire meal in french. I suspect she thought i was a little french wheelchair girl who mistakenly thought she was speaking english, but was just speaking French with a bad accent. Doing nothing for le cause!

So, what of the French touristy stuff, you ask? Well, my overwhelming memory will be of cobblestones. Lots and lots of cobblestones. Sometimes, like at Mont St Michel, cobblestones combined with a hill. And at other times, like in every other street, just plain cobblestones. Either way, they are the work of le diable!! One place that is cobblestone free is EuroDisney. Maybe that's why they call it the happiest place in the world. Next time, I promise, I'll tell you about our day in the plastic world of Disneyland. Right now, I'm off to join the thinker in Rodin's garden.
Au revoir, L

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ce n'est pas possible

Well bonjour. It is difficult to know where to start this blog. I suspect it will move from a rant to a French farce. You see, the French have a very different attitude to people with disabilities to that which I am accustomed. The attitude is sympathetic for the person's plight, but equally insistent that it shouldn't interrupt the sympathiser's day.
The title of this blog says it all, 'ce n'est pas possible' - it's not possible. I have learnt this phrase well, and it is usually said with a shrug, and a turn away. I've heard it when trying to access floors at museums with a broken elevator, when trying to get on the wheelchair accessible bus with a 'broken' ramp (nb 2 drove past before a non-broken ramp was available), and today, when asking for the shop assistant to get a specific print from the upstairs floor of a shop (which had an elevator, but it was locked).
Now, I've been to inaccessible countries before (yes, I'm looking at you Vietnam and Timor Leste), but at least they are honest with their inaccessibility. The difficulty I have had in France, Paris in particular, is that they indicate access, but frequently access is blocked off, broken, or just not there. In all cases, the simple answer is 'ce n'est pas possible'. In a developed country, in the 21st century, when the World Health Organisation promotes participation for all, is it ok to respond to a lack of autonomy, contribution and participation in one's community with a simple 'it's not possible'? I would think not.
Rant over. I promise funny stories next time... Unless ce n'est pas possible

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A wheelchair in Paris

After 2 fun-filled weeks, I hopped on the Eurostar to get some respite in Paris. We had a moment of panic when the check-in man informed me that they already had 4 wheelchairs on board (I wondered if those chairs contained people) and that is a lot. Four wheelchairs is a lot???? Mate, I've just been to the Paralympics. Four is just the line for coffee...on a slow day!
After we established that I was traveling on that train (ok 'we' was probably 'me'), I sat back and let the French chic wash over me. And by 'French chic', I mean red wine.
When I arrived, it was pouring with rain. Paris was a sad, dreary, wet city. The people looked like wet poodles, and the poodles looked like.... Damn, I've run out of similes. Anyway, it was cold. I stood in the taxi line for 45 minutes, and then 10 minutes later, I was at my nice, comfortable hotel. I booked a hotel in the Invalides area, largely for the comedy value of the name. Get it, me as an invalid?? Ironical! Yeah, the French don't get it. I'm the only one that laughs each time I give directions to my home.
Speaking of les Invalides (heheh), up until today, I thought I had the only wheelchair in Paris. However, sitting in this cafe, in the last hour, 3 people have wheeled past me. They must also appreciate the free entry to the museums (not to mention the invitation to skip the long lines). Honestly, I turned up to Musee d'Orsay to see millions of people in line. I joined the queue, and there was a round of
'non Madame' from the guards. Suddenly I was ushered in the side entrance and welcomed like I owned the place. In order to prolong this feeling of superstardom, I kept popping out in order to pop back in in such a spectacular fashion.
But what Paris gives, Paris also takes away.... For a little while. Feeling very special and VIP-like, I left the museum to wheel home. On one of the roads, I had to bounce off the footpath past construction. I bounced down, wheeled for about 4 minutes, then found there was no way up. I was trapped on the road at the exit of a busy tunnel that ran under the Seine. What to do, what to do?
Well, I sat there like un Invalides for a bit... And a police car drove past at that moment. Next thing I know, the tunnel was blocked by the police car, traffic was stopped, and I was escorted across the road. Superstardom!
That's all for now, but next we speak, remind me to tell you about my first ever roller coaster ride at Eurodisney.
Cheers, L

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Post-paralympic Parisian Post

Well then. The Paralympics are over for another four years, which is just as well as it might take me four years to recover. I thought that being an athlete was difficult, but I hadn't counted on the stress in being a spectator. You see, when you're a paralympian, you have a team manager who organises transport, food, access to games, and sometimes sightseeing and entertainment to pass he downtime. As a spectator, I needed to provide this all for myself...with mixed success, let me tell you.
I became quite expert with the bus system...apart from the 'hop on hop off' bus. It seems only a few of those had wheelchair access, over three different routes. The bus company didn't see why this was a problem. For Gerry and I, it meant a long wait to 'hop on', only to watch two non-accessible buses go by. Followed by a discussion with a driver where he pointed out that when we 'hop off' we might need to wait for three or so buses to 'hop on' again. Not so much the 'hop on hop off' experience, more like the 'get our money back and go to the pub' experience.
As a spectator, as I said, you play every minute of every game. As a player, you do this too, but you have the opportunity to influence the outcome. Your actions have an effect. In London, in the crowd, I spent every game chewing the inside of my cheek, like I did when I was on the bench as a player. By the end of the tournament, I was actively avoiding orange juice
(carefully replacing it with alcoholic ginger beer, score!!!) as the insides if my cheeks were so sore.
But what can I say about the tournament? As you possibly know, the australian women's wheelchair basketball team, the gliders, won a silver medal. I can't speak for those players, but what I can do is tell you about my feelings when I won a silver in the Athens paralympics.
In a team sport, winning a silver means you lost the gold medal game. You go home with a shiny medal, of which you will eventually be proud, but you lost your last game. It's a hard position to be in. It took me a few months after Athens to start saying that I won the silver medal, and not that I had lost the gold.
I know this blog is meandering a little as I reflect on the London Paralympics. It's very difficult to reflect on an event that is: 1. Momentous, 2. Record-breaking, and 3. Represents many of the values that makes me me. The Paralympics is a gathering of people for whom negotiating the world is a tad more complex than the average person. People who have had to develop resilience, coping skills, negotiating skills, and a high belief in their own abilities...and that's just to go shopping! The lessons you learn as a young person with a disability in the presence of paralympians provide a framework to build a life. I will forever be grateful to those athletes who took me under their wings, and in turn, I tried to do the same.
So, yes the Paralympic games is a sporting event, and the sport was superb. However, it is so much more than that. For a child with a disability, it might be the first time they see a role model, a hero, something to aspire to, that isn't reliant on all body parts working, or even all body parts being present. For those of you with all your working bits all in the right places, you might not realise how important this is. Let's just say that the Paralympics feeds my soul.
I plan on attending the next Paralympics, in Rio in 2016. Brazil, the land of parties, Mardi Gras, and skimpy bikinis. I have four years to turn into a supermodel!!!
Cheers, Lisa

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Timor Leste - The real reason for our visit

Today, I started organising my suitcase to head to London for Paralympic-spectator duties (NB. my spell check tells me that Paralympic is not a word....NOT IN YOUR WORLD MR MICROSOFT, BUT IN MINE, IT DEFINITELY IS!!)

Anyway, I thought that I better finish off the Timor stories before I start on the UK and France stories. Now, where were we? I'm not sure, so here is a picture of Justin Bieber on the back of a taxi-type vehicle to distract you while I gather my thoughts. (NB. spell check tells me that Bieber is also not a word. Mr Microsoft, I think our worlds are as one on this point!)

So, Alison and I volunteered to run a 4 day wheelchair basketball camp, and 1 day of demonstration games at a rehabilitation facility in Timor Leste, called Assert. Assert is the only rehab facility in Timor, so, as you can imagine, people with a wide variety of needs attend their service. While I was there, I met half the occupational therapists in the whole country (I met one!). He was one third of all OT's, but one of the three is on maternity leave. Understandably, there is a lot of work for him to do!
Here is a mural on the wall of the exercise area:

The little froggies have prosthetic spring-legs. Awwwwwww!

Being the OT that I am, I had a poke around in their equipment room. They have adapted day chairs to be more suitable for rough terrain by replacing the two front casters with a long bar, leading to one single large front caster. This is great for getting around through gravel, dirt, in the wet, etc, but I wonder how people manage in their own homes with daily living tasks like cooking (Sorry, can't help it...the OT in me is always thinking!). In addition to the day chairs, there are also a lot of these tricycles at the centre:

Several years ago, I saw these in Vietnam also, and they are a great idea for rough roads, with no footpaths. In fact, my day chair was so unsuitable that when I got home, I had to do a fair amount of maintenance because it just wasn't used to the off-road, dusty, dry conditions (there's now a footpath from my house to every bar in Torquay so I never need to go off-road!!).

Transport is also similar to Vietnam. I love the use of a fluffy hat for protection:

But, let's talk about the basketball, shall we? Firstly, I must say, I'm sorry, but I can't post photos of the players on my personal blog due to privacy reasons. However, I have done some judicious photoshopping (thanks for teaching me that skill NetReach) so there is a photo.

Unfortunately, I missed the best photo opportunity... When we first arrived, on day 1, when all the players were waiting for us in the building, a cow was happily lazing on the court. Apparently, that is his home. And let me tell you, he was not happy when we made it our home instead! At that point, Alison and I both knew that we were in a very different basketball world to the one from whence we had come.

So, here is a quick photo of Alison and I on court for the first morning. Notice how we look clean, not sweaty. Our shirts are not covered in dust, our faces are not too red, and I have found some shade. Yep, none of those things lasted long!

The court was white concrete, which reflected the billionty-zillion degrees of the sun. It was winter in Dili, and some of the players wore jumpers during training. However, not me.... Have you seen that scene from the Wizard of Oz when the wicked witch melts into a pool of liquid? Well, I'm pretty sure I reenacted that on the afternoon of day 1....and then again on day 2.....maybe day 3.....but by day 4, I learnt how to hide in the shade!!

That was not all I learnt though. We knew that we were throwing new knowledge at our players, all day, everyday. Our idea was that we would provide a lot of new stuff, knowing that only some of it would be remembered. So, in order to minimise the stuff they needed to learn, we decided to learn some Tetum basketball-related words. I thought I learnt the words for Left and Right, and led the group through a drill where they had to turn their chair according to the direction I said. I'm not sure what I said, I thought it was Left, but clearly it was "stop moving your chair in order to laugh at Lisa and look at each other with raised eyebrows". Oh well, that's not the first time I've done that...but usually it's in English.

Just in case you're wondering, here is a photo of the whiteboard on which we had the players write the Tetum words  for the lines on the court. I just want to point out that the word for the key is Xave, pronounced something like Shar-vay. You know, Sharvay...the same way I say my surname after I've had a few wines! That's right people, I AM THE KEY TO BASKETBALL!!

I won't spend too much time talking about the skills we taught, but just imagine the very beginning of a wheelchair basketballer's career. The players soaked up the knowledge like they were sponges. They were great! Both the new players and the last year's existing players all improved each and every session. On day 1, we taught one-handed shooting and we hardly saw two-handed, behind the head, shots ever again. And the amount of smiles and laughter that happened showed us that wheelchair basketball is such a great game, and Alison and I felt privileged to be able to share it with others. I can see how this volunteering gig can become addictive!

Pushing the wheelchair was not necessarily something that all of the players had done before, so for some, it was a struggle to steer straight. In fact, one of the women had only received a day chair on the first morning of the camp, despite not being able to walk for years. She told us a story of hardly leaving her house, and when she did, being mistaken for a beggar. She was so embarrassed about that  that she hardly ever left the house again.

It was stories like her's that reminded me again and again that I was lucky to be born into a country with resources, infrastructure and laws that support my equal participation and social inclusion. Although I was not particularly lucky in collecting the whole, complete set of vertebrae, I was lucky to do that in Australia.

Anyway, on a lighter note, here is a picture of a picture that was hanging above my hotel bed. Does it remind you of anyone (answer below picture)?
(Answer: The Timorese version of Bert and Ernie...with giant nipples!!)

And then, after 5 days of great fun sharing our knowledge and experiences with new friends, we headed home.
Bye Timor Leste, we will be back!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Timor Leste - Before the Basketball Began

Well, I'm back from Timor Leste. Technically, I wrote this blog whilst away, but we didn't have internet access so I'm posting now. This post is about the first 2 days, before we started the basketball camp, when we were just travellers without a purpose.

To catch up, I was in Timor Leste with a Gliders team-mate, Alison, to run a development wheelchair basketball camp, funded by Motivation Australia, a not for profit disability and development organisation. Three other coaches went last year, where they built the donated wheelchairs, then introduced 10 players to the fabulous game! This year, 8 of those players returned, with 6 new ones, but more about the actual basketball in the next post. 

Just before we start my account of the day, a trend I have noticed happening amongst my friends is taking a holiday at a health retreat, where you have no internet and avoid phone contact, eat basic foods such as rice, protein and vegetables, engage in exercise and maybe take saunas to cleanse the toxins. Well, let me tell you, running a 5 day wheelchair basketball camp in an outside court in Timor Leste meets every single one of those goals!! 

Friday, 3rd August:
Day one. Today, we travelled from our homes in Hobart and Torquay to Darwin, where, the plan was, to stay in the airport hotel overnight. It seems simple enough, right? Well, consider the amount of stuff we needed to bring: My day chair, both our sports chairs, one bag of spare wheels, both our suitcases, and a box full of basketballs. Still, not as bad as last year’s volunteers, who had to bring the basketball rings over with them! 

Normally, there is that moment when you dump your luggage at check-in, and don’t have to worry about it until you reach your final destination. Unfortunately for us, we were on two different airlines from Melbourne to Sydney, and then from Sydney Darwin (not to mention the final leg of Darwin to Dili, which makes it three different airlines). Yep, at each stop, we had to load up a trolley full of luggage, and stack one sports chair on top of the other, and make our way through crowded airports.

The last time I had this much stuff to haul through an airport was when I was off to the Athens Paralympics. Because Australia is currently gripped by Olympic fever, every now and again, some other passenger asked me if I was off to the London Paralympics. Well, I didn’t lie when I said yes ;)

The Darwin Cup is on this weekend. The flight to Darwin was chocca-bloc, and all the hotels are booked out. Just as well tonight’s hotel booking was made a while ago…..or was it?!?!? Well, technically, the staff of our organisation booked a room for us…. But the hotel staff recorded the wrong date, despite sending a confirmation email. That’s right, 2 women and a truck-load of luggage were homeless in Darwin. We thought about turning the sports chair frames into humpies for a moment. However, luckily for us, the airport hotel had a sister resort just around the corner, where they could give us a room.

Off we trottted, pushing trolleys and wheelchairs to “just around the corner”, which was thankfully, just around the corner. A bit of confusion ensued as the desk person was not the same one that had spoken to our first attempt of a hotel. However, this was quickly sorted when the original person’s break was over.
Holding our key to room 244 in our hot little hands, we wearily wandered to dump our stuff and collapse on the beds. And, here lies the problem. You see, room 244 was not abundant in beds. In fact, it had only one. Now, I’m short, but I can’t fit in a drawer!

Back we wandered to reception. Finally, 2 hotels, a walk “just around the corner” and 3 attempts at a room later, we collapse on our separate beds, and contemplate how quickly we will use the 2 passes for free drinks we were given for our troubles.

Our Glider teammate, Red, met us for dinner, where the manager proceeded to give us more free drinks and a discount on dinner. Well, we don’t mind if we do…and we did! After a catch up on lives, lots of laughter, ridiculous amounts of pork ribs, and the odd bubbles or two, we collapsed into bed, ready for our 4.20am wake up call.

Saturday 4th August,
4.20am came around very quickly!
5am shuttle bus to the airport, for a 6.30am flight. Plenty of time, we thought. However, we did not count on the “wheelchair panic” of the airport check-in staff. (NB. “Wheelchair panic” is a term that I use to describe the sheer panic of customer relations staff in “having to deal” with a person in a wheelchair. It’s not restricted to airline staff, but they tend to get it the most. Ironically, most wheelchair panic can be alleviated by simply asking the person what usually happens, rather than reinventing the wheel (heheheh pun) each time).

We checked in our mountain of luggage, and unfortunately, this time I didn’t win the war. That is, this airline has a policy that day chairs are checked in with ordinary luggage, and I have to sit in an aisle chair for an hour or so. Most progressive airlines understand that it is actually less staff intensive for them if I stay in my chair until boarding. Nope, not this airline…and it took them a while to understand that I would only agree if they provided a staff member to push me for the entire time (ie, not sitting me in the corner of the gate lounge, unable to move).

They provided a staff member, and she was lovely. Unfortunately, it was her 3rd day, so for the next half hour or so, we went on adventures together trying to find the secret hidden lifts in restricted areas of the airport.

While we were lining up in customs, a call came through on her radio, telling her that she needed to change my seat from the very front of the plane, to the very back of the plane to allow for the DPL. What is the DPL you ask? The creatively named “Disabled Persons’ Lift” – the tiny little cherry picker type thing that takes a person in an aisle chair onto the plane from the tarmac.

Just as well I learnt what a DPL was, because it gave me a heads up when the radio crackled through with “actually, I don’t think Dili has a DPL”. Ummm………it’s a long way down to bungie jump onto the tarmac!
The flight to Dili took just over an hour, and here is a photo of some spectacular scenery as we flew over Timor Leste.

We landed, the other passengers disembarked, and sure enough, there was no sign of a DPL. But then one arrived. Here is the Timor version of a DPL, getting me to the tarmac. 

 I am pleased to say that when he arrived at my seat, he looked me up and down, and then nodded, indicating that he could indeed lift me. I am less pleased to say that he was panting like an ill-prepared marathon runner by the time we got to my chair! [Mental note: next time I go to Timor, spend several months on Weight Watchers first.]

We arrived at our hotel, holding our breath that this booking was correct. Yep, all good (*wiping sweat from brow… both from relief and the millionty-zillion degrees of sunny sunshine). The hotel had done its best to become wheelchair friendly since the time our booking was made. They whipped up a ramp, and a shower chair, in the shed out the back (I mean, they whipped them up in the shed, not that I had to shower in the shed!).

When we arrived, they saw the effort it took to get up the two big steps at the front. So, in the time it took for me to go for a quick swim in the pool surrounded by a cat and a chicken (true!), they had whipped up a ramp. Ingenuity at its best!

Then we headed outside to have a look around, and here is a quick look at what we found:

Sunday 5th August
Today was a lazy day today, with a small bit of site-seeing, and a lot of lying by the pool. This morning, we drove on the Timorese version of the Great Ocean Rd. 

What I mean is that it wound around corner after corner, had the beach on one side, had mountains on the other…. and sometimes, a car came towards you on the wrong side of the road!! However, unlike Australia, the drivers here seem to anticipate that nobody drives with rules. Nobody panics… no harm done.
We hired a driver for an hour, who took us the big Jesus statue.

Apparently the nice beaches are further along, past the statue, and known as Jesus Backside Beach. We didn't get that far, but the beaches we saw where pretty amazing anyway.

Tonight, we ate food on sticks cooked on the beach. I’d tell you what that food was, but the most specific I can get is ‘meat’. I’m sure mine was chicken, but Al bravely chose the “buffalo”. Mmmmm…tasty. Best we don’t question that one too much. We bought some of the banana leaf things just to see what was inside: a little bit like "Deal or No Deal". Deal - Rice!

After beachside dinner and beers, we then reviewed tomorrow’s plan. We can’t wait to get on court and share the joy of wheelchair bball!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wiping off the dust, metaphorically speaking

Well, hello there,
I thought I would wipe the dust off the old blog, and let you all back into my world.
To be fair, it's probably the same as your world...except permanently sitting down. And, if you are also a permanent sitter, SNAP!

Why have I reinstated this blog, you ask? Well, here are some clues, based on what I bought today:
- spf 30+ sunscreen, water and sweat resistant
- industrial strength mosquito repellent, for tropical conditions
- enough finger tape to strap down a small army (ooohhhhh, interesting idea)
- a new elbow protector
- tyre tubes
- dysentery tablets

Worked it out?

Ok, I'll tell you. At the end of next week, I'm off to East Timor (or Timor Leste) to run a 5 day wheelchair basketball camp. Did you know that the average temperature for August in E. Timor is one billionty-zillion degrees?

Fun!!! Sun!!!! Sweat!!!!

I'm hoping that it will simulate being in a giant sauna, so I will drop 453654645645 kg before going to France in September. I need to drop 453654645645 kg by then because I have calculated that I will gain exactly 453654645645 kg from carafes of red wine and pain au chocolat in the two weeks of Parisian living!

Anyway, this blog is really just to tell you to look out for the new ones, coming to you from firstly East Timor, and then the London Paralympics....and then maybe some from some tiny cafe in Paris (if I can work out how to use the computer after 45346364364563 carafes of red wine!)