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Giraffes are my Favourite Things

The fun began at 6am on Tuesday morning, when I got up ready and raring for Dad to be his usual two hours early. I showered in the knowledge that washing without equipment whilst I was away would be somewhat tricky, and I’d probably return slightly more wiffy than what anyone would want. I caught up on Friends with the sad awareness that proper telly, aka Netflix, would not be blissfully enjoyed for three whole days. And I waited…

We arrived behind schedule on account of getting a tad lost. While Dad found the nearest pub, Mum and I located the toilets after five hours of crossing our legs, which is hard when you have CP. After we’d wet our whistles, Dad went to track down our apartment, which it turns out was not attached to Orocco Pier Hotel as we’d thought, but a mile up the road. So off we trekked – well they trekked, I wheeled.

All I’ll say about our accommodation is it’s extremely suitable for wheelchairs once you’ve been carried down the fifteen narrow, steep concrete steps and successfully managed to grip onto life. Joking aside, South Queensferry is a beautiful suburb of Edinburgh with epic views of Forth Bridge and a fantastic Indian, Queen’s Spice, which was tried and tested on our first night.

Day one saw a chilled morning; a Scottish breakfast (minus the haggis) and a wander along the pier. We were gearing ourselves up for the free Harry Potter Trail followed by the Edinburgh Tattoo, which, in all honesty, I thought was going to be the dullest thing I’d ever seen.

One thing you should know is that Dad and map-reading do not mix. I am also visually impaired and cannot read anything whilst in motion. This meant that it took what felt like ten hours to barge through the hoards of people that had flocked to the Fringe Festival, to find our meeting point for the tour. There were yet more concrete steps and decided to give it a miss.

You’ll be pleased to know that not only was the Tattoo far from dull, but there was also adequate wheelchair access and front row seats. I can honestly say that it was one of the most spectacular things I’ve experienced. All the performances were flawless. The lighting was stunning, especially when it was projected onto the Castle walls. The whole thing was a celebration of diversity and culture, with generous helpings of bagpipes and horses. What more could anyone ask for?

Dad was ill when we went to the zoo, so Mum and I set off into Edinburgh all by ourselves. A simple task you may think. Not when every street looks the same as the one before it. Eventually we got on one of the several buses that were available and hoped that we weren’t going to find ourselves in Glasgow.

As an animal lover, I was excited to see all the creatures who lived at Edinburgh Zoo. Having said that, giraffes are my favourite things. I’m not sure whether it has anything to do with me being insanely short and therefore I have a touch of height jealousy or if it’s their blue tongues and overall cuteness – either way, I adore them.

There wasn’t a giraffe in sight.

We were given an accessibility map when we arrived which mark out all the areas that were on a steep slope or had steps. From what I could gather the “danger zones” covered pretty much the entire zoo. Being the sensible person that I am, I decided to ignore it and carry on regardless. Now, please don’t quote me, but in my opinion, the map exaggerated what was deemed to be inaccessible; the zoo is fairly hilly, but I managed just fine. There are also several pick-up points for those who struggle in the walking department. A chauffeur is basically on call to come and take you to your chosen destination.

Mum spent the day fretting that my chair would run out of charge and so had to check that there were animals clearly visible in the enclosures before I was “allowed” to go and look at them. Despite, this, I have a new-found appreciation for meerkats. lemurs and seagulls. I didn’t see the latter at the zoo, but there are plenty of them in Edinburgh – their nonchalance and can-do attitude to life is inspiring.

The trip ended with a final drink for me and Mum, but an early night for Dad. He’d told us to call him when we were back at the apartment though, so he could carry me down the steps. As luck would have it, he was asleep, and we didn’t have the heart to wake him up.

We stared and the steps in which were in total darkness wondering how on Earth we were going to make our way down without breaking any limbs. I can only say I used muscles I never knew I had!

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