Sunday, 31 May 2015

Global Endemic Plague

Imagine if the total populations of:

Vatican City
San Marino
Faroe Islands
Isle of Man
Northern Cyprus
Greater Manchester (England)

were struck down with an illness and could not work. What a terrible effect this would have on their communities and economies! These are the kinds of figures we are dealing with on a global scale of the numbers of individuals struck down with my infirmity. For those afflicted, their families, loved ones and communities have to care for them. Worse still: the ill probably do not receive, unless very fortunate, appropriate medical care let alone nursing support. The medical establishment in most countries all but ignores the illness and next to no research is executed into finding the cause/es let alone possible treatments.

The illness is more common in the United Kingdom than Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis, Cystic Fibrosis, Motor Neurone Disease, and equal to 75% of those affected by all cancers.

Imagine if your government banned you from donating blood or organs, even after death, but then colluded with the medical establishment to dismiss sufferers as only needing cognitive behavioural therapy (C.B.T.) and/or exercise to get better, despite the evidence demonstrating that these do not work.

This illness is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or M.E. We need help and support now!

Every year the month of May is designated #MEAwarenessMonth and 12th May is #InternationalMEAwarenessDay to co-incide with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, one of the most famous sufferers.

Please consider googling "UK ME charities" and making a donation or even offering your time and service by volunteering.

And yes, whilst I have some good periods, most of my life for the past several years has been abed. The following description very much describes my quotidian experience of the disease. (Apologies to the visually impaired for not transcribing - it's very long!) 

[Image courtesy & © MEAwarenessPics]

Saturday, 30 May 2015


[Image description: the writer and a Viennese lady laughing together]


[Für Georg, mein österreichischer Freund]

“Und Du,
wie ich an Dir immer erinnere,
lächelst und lachst.”


Merkwürdig, wie das Lachen
         Dein Lachen
         durch meinen Geist hält
glückliches Läuten
Ich höre Dich eins lachen
         und merkend lachen
         und schallend loslachen
         als ob im Zimmer
         recht in diesem Augenblick
aber die Erinnerungen
         wenn nicht ausgebleichten
         Jahre alt sind
die Herzlichkeit
die Lebensfreude
die Munterkeit
         beleben mich
         machen mich munter
         auch jetzt noch
         wie Dein Lachen
         wie Du
         hast dann
solche Fähigkeit
         für Fröhlichkeit
im Web ein Business Foto
         zeigt Dich lächelnd
         mit Bravour
per E-Mail ein privates Foto
         zeigt Dich lachend
         mit Begeisterung
         nie gickelnd
         oder kichernd
nur Lachkrämpfe
         von übersprudelndes
angenehmes Reminszenz
einhüllender Sinn
wärmende Glut
Ich lächle,
         seufze, Hei-ho!
         dann wieder schmunzele
         bei mein österreichischen Freund
         und Dein ungezwungenes Lachen


The English version of this poem is called "laughter".

Friday, 22 May 2015

"Zum Wohl", Gluten- & Lactose-Free Restaurant, Vienna: a Review

The landlady of the lovely guest-house where we are staying in Vienna, suggested we might like to try Zum Wohl (literally meaning "To Your Health"; said as a toast or after sneezing) just a few hundred metres from our temporary residence. The offerings are stated to be one-hundred-percent lactose-free, 100% gluten-free. Even their own-brand beer (see the advertising-hoarding image below).

Zum Wohl is entered via a stolid but modern entrance (image below), tastefully built into the hundred-plus-year-old edifice. However, one must negotiate several large steps. Wheelchair-users without an assistant would not be able to enter, as the door itself is too heavy and pulls outwards. There was no button or bell to call for assistance from staff as far as I could tell.

The interior is not as bright as the photograph below might suggest. It is well lit, but also soft on the eye, which for this photophobe was just right. We were permitted to choose where we wished to sit. As in many venues in Vienna, seating of different heights and differing styles was available.

My companion, having eaten heartily earlier in the day, only wished to dine on a salad. He opted for Käferbohnen (called Feuerbohnen in Germany) und Erdäpfel (Kartoffel in German German) Salat, runner bean & potato salad with Speck. In this instance the Speck was bacon, but it can also be a type of air-dried prosciutto. The dish, as can be seen in the snap below, was beautifully presented, so appealed to the eye. My chum devoured it, despite not being hungry - delicious he said! Costing €4,90 this was excellent value for money.

Dining for me, tends to be somewhat more problematic, as I have a severe food allergy to garlic (Knof(e)l in Austrian German; Knoblauch in German German). I always make any eatery aware of this before I order. At first the waiter advised me that any dish could be prepared without garlic; but after checking with the kitchen he apprised me that I could not have anything with vegetables as they had been pre-prepared and all contained garlic. This left me with a single option for my mains and a choice of salads. I was glad I opted for the large salad, which contained both lettuce and mixed salad leaves, as well as cucumber, radish, cherry tomatoes (Paradeiser, Aust.; Tomaten, Ger.) and red & green peppers (capsicums). It was lightly dressed, tasty, crunchy, sweet - nigh on perfect. At €5,80 this represented good value for money.

Accompanying the salads were the lightest, tastiest and most delightful gluten-free breads I and my dining-companion have ever experienced. Top marks for these (below).

My sole choice for main was trout: served tepid, but a mouthwatering delight on the palate. This was accompanied by parsley potatoes, which were stodgy and reminiscent of school-dinners, and an assortment of veggies. The broccoli appeared to have come straight from the freezer and was most under-whelming. As can be seen from my visual record, there was no accompanying sauce. At €17.50 this was poor value for money. Disappointing.

Desserts. My chum was tempted by the pancake (Palatschinke, Aust.; Pfannkuche, Ger.). Again he was most impressed. At a mere €2,50 my friend was more than happy with his choice.

I opted for panna cotta with a ragoût of berry fruits (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and redcurrant) and a rhubarb compôte. Both the ragoût and the compôte were just spot-on; but the panna cotta itself had the appearance and texture of plastic. A piece fell off my fork and bounced without breaking up which rather iterated its unusual constitution. At €6,50 this dish represented fair value for money, but I should not recommend it.

With wine for myself, beer for my friend, bottled Vöslauer water and two digestifs, the total bill came to a very reasonable €68 (about £50) for the two of us.

I would certainly go to Zum Wohl again for drinks and perhaps a salad for lunch; but I would not dine again. Having said that: this was the best free-from cuisine I have ever experienced.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Farewell to the United Kingdom; Good-bye England

In view of the 2015 general election results for the United Kingdom (although probably not united for very much longer!), it is with great sadness that I am informing all my readers that I shall now have to leave England for good.

As those of you who have been following this blog, my facebook page and/or my twitter account will know, under the ConDems - due to actions by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the mainstream media (MSM) and the government itself - I had to go back on to anti-anxiety medication. I cannot take another five years of persecution and harassment and live in constant fear of the DWP and the country's Government.

[Image description: Inverness airport & environs]

My ex-partner & best friend and I are now making plans to move to Scotland. At least there will be an NHS there to care for me. I have asked friends living and working in Inverness to advise us of some good estate (real estate)/rental agents, so that we can begin making enquiries. We shall also be looking to rent out our current home pro tem. However, if it looks like any EU referendum means an exit from Europe, that too will be put up for sale.

I am aware that several of my real-world and social-media friends are Conservative party voters: thank you for not gloating about your political party's victory; your sensitivity is appreciated.

Finally, those quislings, the Liberal Democrats, got what they thoroughly deserved; duplicity is one trait I cannot abide. I apologise for voting for them for so many years believing the party to be filled with folk of integrity - I was so wrong. To the Green party: you can hold your head up high; thank you for being a voice of reason amidst all the screeching, dominating, Neo-liberal cacophony.

England, I shall miss my incorrect view of you and despise the wicked, uncaring self you have revealed yourself to be. If there is a G_d, I hope s/he helps the meek, because the English certainly will not be your Good Samaritans.

Friday, 1 May 2015

We Live - Art for #BADD2015 [NB NSFW]

The image was so temperamental that it kept on disappearing: so, I have split it into three; blogger will not let me join them back up - sorry! %S

Dis/Ablism in Benalmádena: photo-doc for #BADD2015

I have taken dozens and dozens of photographs of good, poor and really bad practice in enabling equal access to the streets and facilities of Benalmádena in Andalusia. In the thirteen years I have been a visitor, I have seen major changes. Nonetheless, awareness of disability issues is still rather woeful. Some of the photographs are great examples of how-to or how-not-to. Instead of posting all my photographs, I have decided to demonstrate a circular route from the main taxi-rank on the Avenida de las Palmeras to the health-centre serving the area, where anyone who needed non-emergency medical help would have to attend. Then I crossed over the main road and walked back snapping as I went.

Not all the images are labelled: so my apologies to the visually impaired. I am currently travelling and only have intermittent internet connection. I expect to have described all the pictures by the end of the month.

A pharmacy with lots of space out front, lots of steps, but no ramp or lift.

Just about wide enough for a wheelchair to pass, but no margin for error as that is a rather high kerb (curb).

Look out for raised iron-works - a constant threat.

A sensory dropped kerb to the pedestrian-crossing.

A soon-to-be mini-supermarket has already installed a ramp with dual hand-rail.

The above and following photos demonstrate how important it is to restrict street-furniture and advertising-hoardings as well as situating the stops far enough forwards/backwards so that wheelchairs can comfortably pass.

Sensory surface leading to crossing-point.

Alas the path on the opposite side is too narrow for a wheelchair, and just wait for the ironworks and litter-bin on the corner (below)!

Much of this route has trees and lamp-posts and signage placed in the centre of the pavement, forcing the wheelchair-user at best to take a slalom course.

Low hanging trees and shrubs, whilst æsthetically attractive, are a nightmare for the blind and visually impaired - not everyone can see that they need to duck or move around.

A steep drop from pavement to road: very difficult for independent wheelchair-users or pushers to control the chairs.

Missing ironworks - again a common feature - are just as potentially dangerous as raised ones.

Raised ironworks, potholes, cracks and uneven surface on a pedestrian-crossing.

Just as bad at the next junction with C/ Camelia.

And this dropped kerb does not actually align with the chewed-up crossing.

More obstacles

But you do get the sensory dropped kerb just before the crossing.

Nigh impossible to navigate round this item of street-furniture.

Missing ironworks: the pavement equivalent of a pothole!

Another low-hanging tree. The man ahead had to duck to pass under.

A rather steep, curving pavement.

Sensory and dropped kerb to traverse the zebra-crossing.

Keep going round if you are mobility impaired…

At the next crossing (the one we need)…

…we encounter a dropped kerb that has a lip.

The international symbol for disabled plus arrows attached to the front entrance point us to the right.

Alas, they're a tad difficult to perceive from the crossing, so one is going to make an unnecessary detour!

Access is via a side-door. I checked it opens really easily, despite looking sturdy.

There are three disabled-parking bays - but they are at the front, not at the side of the building!

Oftentimes, the buttons for requesting the green-man are set too high.

We now approach the area around the hotel Sunset Beach, where some of the worst examples of disablism on this route were encountered.

Above & below: avoid the steep, dropped kerbs and go round the bollards!

This hotel's one disabled-parking spot next to a ramp to an entrance.

Over the ironworks or brushed by the bush?

Another 'bus-stop inconveniently stationed in the centre of the pavement,

Oh, and a litter-bin!

Thou shalt not pass to the right…

…nor to the left!

Still, if one manages to negotiate the road and get back on to the pavement, there is a dropped kerb ahead.

A little steep - but that adds to the fun!

Can we get round this inconveniently located mini-bollard?

Yikes: why bother, even with a pusher this very high kerb would be extremely difficult to navigate!

And no way to pass close by as the waste authority has deposited a communal bin in the way.

The only way is to go into the road.

Hold on: there's a gap between the parked cars to the pavement…

But vehicles and bollards block any ability for pedestrians to continue, let alone wheelchair-users.

Oh, steps down to the disabled-ramp!

Back onto the road.

This looks like a steep drop.

But the smooth surface which becomes treacherously slippy when wet has been coated with non-slip strips.

Looking back, one can see just how steep the curving slope is.

Crossing with sensory & dropped kerbs.

However, on the other side you will not be able to pass between the post and the untrimmed shrubby without become very intimate with the bushes!

A 'bus-stop, built out from the pavement, so that the pavement remains clear for pedestrian traffic.

After a couple of months the upgrades at Carasco Beach are "complete".

The dropped kerb that is not: even the added-because-we-realise-we-miscalculated asphalt still leaves a lip up to the pavement.

Above & below double hand-rails for ambulant and wheelchair beach visitors.

This washed-out sign in pale blue on a white background advises that this is the bathing zone adapted for "invalids".

Dropped kerb next to disabled-parking bay.

Access for disabled folk.

Signage advising what facilities are available at the beach for those with impairments/disabilities.

The original ramp down to the beach, with no hand-rails.

A sign advising that we are on an adapted beach.

The beach facilities for folk with impairments/disabilities…

…which is LOCKED and there is no information as to how to obtain the key or access.

At least there is a disabled-wc.

The message from this image of a communal dustbin placed on a disabled-parking bay, is that we are unimportant?

The tourist point is accessible to the mobility impaired as there is level access from the western side. Wheelchair-users will just have to shout and hope someone hears you!

This crossing in the several months I have been here has been broken more than not when I have needed to use it. Wheelchair-users really would be taking their life in their hands if they attempted to traverse without assistance.

And on top of that, you also have to navigate the cracks and potholes.

This shop, one passes to reach the taxi-rank, has installed at least two ramps (see following two snaps).

And the final crossing to attain our goal of the taxi-rank next to the pharmacy, sensory pavements with dropped kerbs.


For more blog-posts for Blogging Against Disablism Day 2015 (#BADD2015) please check out the archive hosted by Diary of a Goldfish.