My Latest Adventures In London

Back in December 2021, I wrote a blog for The London Transport Museum explaining about a day in the life of a volunteer, but with the focus on having special needs and disabilities.

This is now my sixth blog I have written for them, and I hope you enjoy reading this draft, that will be soon featured on the Museum Website.

“My Dad likes a challenge, and more often than not, it involves me! On this occasion, he surpassed himself, and what started off as normal volunteering duties turned into somewhat of an epic adventure. It feels like we are following along the same path as the great TV series ‘Breaking Dad’ featuring Bradley Walsh and his son Barney! (We could be on to something here!)

On this occasion, our focus turned from The Transport Museum at Covent Garden to The Depot Weekend at Acton. Owing to the number of nights we were staying, we took the easier route to Acton, by taking a taxi as opposed to the train to Liverpool Street from Norwich. With all our luggage and wheelchair, public transport would have been a non-starter.  

Our stay for the 6 nights was to be the Hilton Hotel, Hanger Lane. This is a 20 or so minute walk from the Depot, but a mainly flat route making it manageable.  Disappointingly we pass Ealing Common Underground Station en route which isn’t wheelchair accessible. For reasons unknown, the hotel decides that the best place to site an accessible room is the room furthest away from the lift, which, with our track record of getting lost, meant we had already done so in the hotel alone! This did not bode well for the rest of our adventures!

We had a day to spare before volunteering at The Depot, so Dad decided we should visit Greenwich. Knowing it is relatively flat (wrong as it turned out!), he decided to remove the power pack from my wheelchair! The plan was to take the District Line from Ealing Broadway to Tower Hill, take a look at the famous bridge, and then pick up the DLR to Greenwich. We arrived at Ealing Broadway only to hear that the lifts at Tower Hill were not working. If you read the previous blog (see above), this is where point 10 which is always to ‘Have a Plan B’ comes into its own! True to form, Dad had such an eventuality covered, and we took the same train, but alighted at Blackfriars. An easy change to Thameslink then took us to Greenwich.

Dad then came up with the idea that we should visit The Royal Observatory and learn about Time and The Prime Meridian. At the time (do you like what I did their?!), I didn’t really understand what all this entailed so I just went along with it! Now, those of you who have visited The Royal Observatory before may have noticed a slight flaw in the planning! To get there, it is most certainly not flat, nor did we have the power pack on the wheelchair! In fact, it is steep, very steep in parts! Nonetheless, Dad persevered, and we made it via the café opposite for tea and cake!

I did actually find the museum very interesting, and easy to understand. The staff were extremely friendly, They showed us around, and I then had my photo taken on ‘The Meridian Line’.

For those that don’t know, The Meridian Line represents The Prime Meridian of the World. Every place on the Earth is measured in terms of its angle east or west of the line. Since 1884, the Prime Meridian. has served as the reference point for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

We then decided something to eat was in order, so we went for a pub meal overlooking The Cutty Sark – the record-breaking tea clipper which travelled the globe and visited every major world port.

To end the evening, we had the small issue of getting back to the hotel, so Dad decided on a boat trip back to Westminster which was fantastic as we saw London all lit up. We also passed under Tower Bridge which we had missed that morning. We alighted at Westminster, saw Big Ben, and then took The District Line back to Ealing Broadway.

I then had 4 days Volunteering to look forward to at The Depot. We had breakfast at the hotel and then left at 0915 to arrive at the museum well in time for the 10am briefing. It was great to see so familiar faces, and everyone as always was so helpful and friendly. My buddies for the weekend were, as usual, my good friends Brian and Bill. I really like the Depot as there is so much room, and it was extremely easy to get around in my wheelchair even when it was very busy. My main duties were to meet and greet the customers and show them around all the exhibits.

 I really enjoyed interacting with the public, and many took a keen interest in the different badges I always wear. This in itself is now becoming a bit of an issue, as Dad has another 20 of them for me to wear, apparently most of them are courtesy of one Sam Clift!  

It was great to meet The Director and Chief Executive Officer, Sam Mullins OBE, who spent a long time chatting to me and making me feel a valued member of the team.

I also had the pleasure of seeing my good friend William Audland KC, who is a one of London’s leading barristers. He was taken on a tour of the Depot by Bill, whilst I was welcoming people into the Depot on my own. This is one of the things I love about being part of the LTM team, as they allow me to be independent and have the confidence to leave me on my own at times. I feel very grown up and important!

Thank you to all the staff and volunteers for such an enjoyable time.

After my work, Dad was back on duty, and we tried a variety of places to eat in the evenings, my favorite being an Indian restaurant opposite Ealing Common Tube Station.  On this occasion I let Dad choose my meal as I don’t like anything too spicey. I will not be asking him again!

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, and I will be writing again after my next visit to The Museum in November.

If you have a spare moment, please take a moment to read and share my own blog website and post some comments.

I like to see this blog site as an inspiration to others who find themselves in a similar situation to me, so I am sure you will appreciate it is all in a good cause.”

"My past ... my present ... my future"

8 Responses

  1. Hi Tim, that sounds like an action packed few days. It’s a good thing your Dad’s got so much energy!
    I hope he’s practicing his running for the half-marathon next year!!

  2. I loved reading this Tom. You fit so much into your trips and tell us about it in such a humorous way.
    I think your Dad is going to fly around the half marathon course in April with all this extra training!
    Keep being Tom x

    1. I think he would rather fly round than run! Tim, who commented above is also running with us. You will hear Tim being called ‘My Son’ by my Dad! You would never guess why in a million years!!!!

  3. Hi Tom,
    Just discovered your blog through a London Transport Museum article you wrote. Thank you for giving such a brilliant insight into your time volunteering. Your work has also made me appreciate how much planning goes into planning time to volunteer (in A day in the life of a welcome host volunteer). Looking forward to reading more about your time at the Museum, Depot and beyond!

    1. Hi Frances. How lovely to hear from you. Thank you for reading my blogs. The newest one was actually published today on the LTM website. If you go to my most recent blog on here, you will see the link. Keep in touch, and have a Great Christmas.

  4. Hey there! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your London adventures! It sounds like you and your dad navigated unexpected challenges with such grace and humor. The Greenwich trip, despite the unplanned workout, seemed like a blast! By the way, if you ever plan another London escapade, you might find this train travel website helpful for hassle-free journeys: [Cheap Train Tickets]( Safe travels and looking forward to your November update! 🚂😊

  5. Hi Oliver. Many Thanks for your response. You seem to have many excellent articles on the internet. Would you be interested in maybe some sort of joint venture to help promote rail travel for those requiring special assistance?. I have to say, at times it is very challenging to compliment rail companies as often the support is appalling – well, closer to non existant! Please make contact via the ‘contact tom’ form, top right corner. Would be great to hear from you. Regards Tom.

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Tom James

Hi – my name is Tom James and this is my blog. I have complex learning and physical difficulties, and I’m hoping that by showcasing how I live my day to day life you can be truly inspired.