Journey: Harwich to Hook of Holland + Overnight stay at Premier Inn
Premier Inn is situated at the port next to Lidle and adjoining a Brewers Fayre. One night cost £61 at the time we booked in January. We had to stay overnight because it meant getting to the ferry 45 mins before we sailed at about 9 am. Much less than 8 hours sleep and my body falls apart. We had a roll in shower, plenty of space and the sink was at a good height to wash my hair in. Lacking in personality like all of these sorts of rooms – it did the job for the night and we were relatively comfy with little noise outside.
Stena Line – to Hook of Holland on board Britannica (older ferry).
This slightly older ship was refurbished in 2007 and was fantastic.
We selected an accessible cabin for one person as a space to chill out and appeared to be the only wheelchair user on the boat getting a large cabin with tables for 1-2 disabled people.
You can see a 360 photo of cabins on their web site.
The only difficulty for me was that the sink is quite high and basin was inset a way from the edge as opposed to the usual type of sinks in say a Premier Inn. It was airy, clean and the beds were firm with a soft mattress topper which even I found comfy having scoliosis.
On board we had free wifi for the duration available on the decks which suited me and my iPhone!
Top Class Service
We were met just outside the lifts by a steward who said they had a reserved area for wheelchair users on board, away from the crowds of people and closely packed tables. So, just to the side of everyone else were 3 tables by a window, with a rope barrier and larger access space clearly signed ‘reserved for our wheelchair accessible guests’ which made me giggle as perhaps the intention got lost in translation now everything was Dutch/English bilingual. Either way, our steward said just to ask if anyone took our spot and he would ‘hoof them out’. Sounds good. Not a single person or child tripped over us in our lovely corner and it was away from the hustle and bustle which was lovely. Some people might see it as segregation but there are times and situations you really need your own spot – not just wheelchair users but other people with impairments too. Our steward watched out spot as we went to get some lunch, went to get our cutlery whist my husband carried the tray and basically got us anything we needed. We felt like royalty,
Our meal was lovely and the journey didn’t last long at all. Right from pulling up in the car, to boarding near the lift through our journey and off the other side it was very good. The ship was clean and tidy and not many people onboard in general. 10/10.
This was a trip in 2010 and I have re published for archiving one this project.
Journey: Hook of Holland to Harwich via Stena Lines – Hollandica Superferry
This ferry was launched this year (April 2010) and will join another Superferry in Autumn. These cost £375 million pounds. Shame they didn’t spend much on thinking about the overall experience for disabled people. Granted the ship had some nice touches but compared to our first crossing, the staff support was very poor.
Again, we pre booked a cabin with wheelchair access. We had our tickets printed at the car booth which they told us also acts as your room key. This was the same as our first journey.
On locating the cabin (which had us wandering the isles of cabins to work out the number system) we found the door had a small low touch pad with a slot to insert the room key card. It also had a normal handle on the door. I believe the door was supposed to open automatically. I say supposed, because it didn’t work.
My husband tried several times and the light flashed but nothing opened. Eventually a member of staff said we had to have a normal key to put in the door. What use is that! The automated door was not working and when we got in we could see why – the opening door arm was not fitted but the electronics were there. It was also kind of … orange!
The bathroom featured a level entry (roll in) shower area with seat and lots of grab rails. The toilet had two grab rails either side and room to side transfer to one side. I’m not that fat but due to scoliosis, lean to the right side. When the grab rails come down they basically wedged me onto the toilet and are closer than what you would find in your average UK accessible toilet. The floor surface is very soft, with good grip but like the previous ferry, the sink is not suitable for hair washing and difficult to reach for me personally.
The bathroom is rather nice but the flat push panel to open the bathroom automatic door is situated above the side unit of the bed on the left of the cabin. So if you have to sleep on the right bed (which I do because of my spine) you can’t press the button from bed. However, if you are a wheelchair user, how someone could sit on the bed, press the button, transfer into their chair and then get through the door before it closed again in about 10 seconds is beyond me anyway! The bathroom door swings back and because it is wide, there is only a few set places your wheelchair can go or it hits you and closes again. If you are standing in the way of the door the force would knock you off your feet – my wheelchair would rock with the force and it’s a weighty machine. The location of the switch hasn’t really been thought through in the overall design I felt and the close mechanism is rather violent (but possibly needed to close a large heavy door).
The cabins were nice though putting these problems to the side even if they did vibrate something chronic.
I was a bit miffed that the free wifi was only for 3 hours and the ‘reception all over the boat’ meant one bar if you’re lucky. We also got an incredibly poor service when purchasing food as what we wanted from the menu wasn’t actually available and my husband ended up with a microwave meal and I ended up with a chicken burger that makes McDonalds look like a 5 star restaurant. The guy who ‘cooked’ our meal was more interested in the football on the plasma tv installed in the food court than customer service. We had no offer of help to carry the tray and no ‘quiet area’ as in my previous blog. Too much money spent on umpteen plasma screen tvs and bars than on customer care I think.
Earlier this year I was delighted to be invited to contribute to the Travelling Toilet Tales film – where a number of us shared our story about planning journeys around toilet requirements. At home I have the right facilities, space, design etc … but outside the home and on holiday it’s a different story.
I chose to contribute via narrating a poem about how difficult it is to go on a day out and find a toilet that is suitable – even with the basics!
Pop to the festival to find out more, listen to our contributions and chat with those attending. I can’t go in person but I will be around on Twitter and our Facebook page to chat about the weird and wonderful (and hugely varied) toilet designs and how this can impact disabled people.
The Utopia Fair will be hosting 35 representatives from contemporary utopian movements from all over the UK on stalls in the Somerset House courtyard. The Travelling Toilet Tales stall will offer the public an exciting first glimpse of a draft of our animated Toilet Tales film. Featuring stories from a range of toilet users, including truckers, disabled parents, and non-binary people, the film is an exploration into the ways in which everyday journeys are planned around the un/availability of a suitable toilet. Visitors will also get the chance to listen to the individual toilet stories in full, browse our postcards and artwork, and talk to the special guests joining us on the stall.
Next door, the Servicing Utopia project will be joined by artists who will invite visitors to create utopian toilet models. This weekend will also present the first opportunity to view the interactive digital Toilet Toolkit and short animated film produced by the Servicing Utopia team. The toolkit is aimed at architects and other design professionals to promote the accessible design of toilet spaces and will allow users to virtually ‘walk around’ toilet spaces and interact with items within the space.
Our newest research projects, Travelling Toilet Tales and Servicing Utopia, will both appear at the Utopia Fair in Somerset House in London this weekend (24th-26th June). The Utopia Fair will be hosting 35 representatives from contemporary utopian movements from all over the UK on stalls in the Somerset House courtyard. The Travelling Toilet Tales stall […]
This is the bathroom in the last Premier Inn in Lincoln (above) that I stayed in last year. The design is the newest room module with a bathroom large enough for a portable hoist or over toilet chair. Most older modules have no hoist space.
The bedroom had two single beds and hoist space. Sounds great …. only some travelers would find it easier to not have to carry around / pack a large hoist or toilet chair.
This Petition to Premier Inn and others is ten months old but the issues are still relevant and worth signing.
What about the toilet?
However, consideration would be needed because current module room layouts would generally not enable a ceiling hoist to access the toilet (and not all travellers want to, or can, take a toilet chair or commode).
If you need a hoist in the bedroom then you will need it in the bathroom too.
Holiday Inn have some ceiling hoists over the bed … but not over the toilet. No use to people like me.
In the hotel entrance/restaurant or business meeting areas … guess what, no hoist over the loo.
I have MD and peer support events are held at these hotel chains … only I can’t go because of no hoist to use the toilet.
In rooms, profiling beds may be required for those who can not get into a hoist sling laying down.
Access needs to be built in from the start to enable the most people to benefit.
Isn’t it time for Premier Inn, Travel Lodge and Holiday Inn to develop new types of rooms and guest toilets, accessible to all and to higher access standards?
When you can’t get to the toilet to pee – what do you do? If you can get close, a urine re-director (also called a director) might work. They are basically a funnel and tube design which extend your urine stream.
If you can stand easier than sitting – women might use a urine director to pee whilst standing. If you can’t get near to the loo – you might want to direct or re-direct into a container or storage device.
In this blog we look at some of the gadgets and gizmos for women that can take your urine stream in a better or different direction – and how to use them. In the next part we will look at items specific to men.
* Please Note we do not sell these products – merely provide information and an example of where they can be purchased. Other retailers may be available.
Directors allow you to pee standing – directing the flow of urine into a toilet or collecting vessel.
They come in many different shapes and some are rigid whereas others are totally flexible. Many come in materials that are suitable for people with allergies e.g to latex.
You can choose from the sort you use once and throw away – or the more popular ones which you rinse, dry and fold away for next time.
For some of them, you can re-direct the urine into a storage device (urinal), down the toilet via an extension pipe or into a urine bag (bags can also have a gel that soaks up the urine and turns it to a solid for easy disposal).
How to use them
If you have some mobility and a level of dexterity, grip and balance – these may be an option for you. There are some important things to take not of – many people have been unhappy with devices wondering why urine won’t flow uphill!
Wash them before and after use – many come with a storage bag.
TIP: If you use a wheelchair and can not shuffle forward, to the edge of your seat then, due to most having a downward spout, you will not be able to get the correct angle – and urine will not flow downwards using gravity (it will gather in the cup and then spill backwards or over as you remove it) – remember these are gravity, urine channeling devices.
TIP: Key to all of these is maintaining a back seal at all costs – or you will dribble or overflow backwards. This one what I personally found difficult with weaker arms and fingers.
TIP: You need an extension tube long enough to reach near the toilet or container without causing splashing! Sometimes you can extend with a pipe from a DIY shop – be aware that the narrower the pipe, the more the urine could backup into the cup and spill – so choose a spout with a wide diameter.
If standing, you will need to be able to stand with your legs apart and hold the director under and close to your body at a specific angle whilst urinating.
To use them whilst sitting, you need need to be able to shuffle right to the edge of a seat that is not contoured to hug your pelvis. You need to be able to pull aside knickers and hold the director at the correct angle – using gravity to ensure flow goes down towards your receiving vessel.
All devices suggest practicing in the shower or bath – however if you use a shower/bath chair/stool – the position and firmness of the seat is very different to balancing on the edge of a wheelchair cushion – so practicing might be difficult. It will give you an idea of the angle required and whether you can hold it though. A lot will also vary depending on how rigid or flexible the director is.
GoGirl even produces T-shirts and lip-balm and tattoos for their products if you want to share how wonderful it is – they has a very good marketing campaign. The proof is in the testing so here are the details if you want to give it a try. They have a useful video on how to hold and use the device.
Features: See picture
Material: Silicone, medical grade.
Accessories: Extension tube and plastic carrying bag
I have tried these as they have been around since the early 1980’s, and they are reviewed by many as the best and most robust to handle – but they are difficult to purchase in the UK – so shop around if it looks like this might be the one for you or buy at a good price from the US. The design has been ‘improved’ since the first edition
Features: Anatomical contouring.
Material: Hard plastic
Accessories: Extension tubes of varying lengths and carry case available.
The claim is you can use this device sitting in a chair or laying on a bed. My own experience said I either have faulty anatomy, position or angle because I had no luck with this smaller devices – but it’s a very individual thing.
You ideally need to use these smaller ones right next to your urethra (i.e. parting the labia) and again getting the angle right. Diagrams are provided and a video to help.
Features: Water repellent, boil-proof
Material: Plastic (Polypropylene).
Accessories: No – comes with a lid though.
Colour Choice: No
EZwee – US product but worth mentioning $14.95
For use sitting, standing or lying down.
Material: Plastic with rubber cover
Accessories: Collection bag
Colour Choice: No
P EZ- Estone: £2.55 from Amazon (Also sold as the SODIAL(R): £1.63
Features: Anatomical contouring.
Material: TPR (plastic)
Colour Choice: No
Disposable urination cones
Below is just one example of many disposable urination cups and funnels. They are essentially a disposable, anatomically shaped cone that you put in the bin (not flush) after use.