Further to a previous article I’ve now taken TGA WHILL, the new style electric wheelchair, for a serious test – a trip to Kew Gardens. This may seem sedate but believe me, travelling over the pavements of Kew Bridge were definitely a test!
It started with trying to reverse out of the lift at BBS Towers which was tricky due to my ineptitude rather than anything to do with WHILL. I’m just no good at reversing blind – maybe some rear view mirrors would help?? Once on the open road everything was fine until we approached kew Bridge……where the North and South Circular roads of London meet. The traffic is heavy at any time and there’s a very narrow pavement at the foot of the bridge. I approached this wheelchair hell with trepidation – it’s steep, on a camber and covered with uneven & broken pavements. However, WHILL was up to the job and rolled over this rough terrain with ease.
‘a unique, multi-sensory experience designed to highlight the extraordinary life of bees. A feat of British engineering, it stands 17 metres tall, set in a wildflower meadow.’
It’s up a steep hill and the trail of people was too long so we didn’t attempt the climb. We wheeled onwards on to the Botanical restaurant where we tried their vegan burger but wished we’d had the afternoon tea. They serve wine but I was not going to drink and drive. You access via narrow ramp and the doorway was just wide enough for WHILL. I drove into the table forgetting the automatic seat that extends and places your legs under the table easily. This also makes transfers easier along with the arms that lift up.
On the way back I did some ‘disabled parking’ and negotiated the mini roundabout. The small turning circle of WHILL is great much to the amusement of some passers by.
The Only problem is avoiding the public.
On the way back we tried the towpath by the Thames which was OK except for my tendency to vere into walls and fences – anywhere but the nearby river.
My excuse is the extra sensitive controls that take some getting used to but it was a fun journey. WHILL definitely ‘turns heads’, it looks stylish and is a smooth ride . If I bought one I would add my own seat and back, which I’ve been told is easy to do.
Next I’m plucking up the courage to go on a bus and maybe a taxi – hopefully my reversing will improve.