Tuesday 18 December 2018

Breaking News

Genny Mobility is up and running again

I Just spoke to someone in Switzerland who tells me the Genny company is working again. I was told that they are in the early stages of service training but that sales and service will resume shortly.

The company website is now working here: Genny Mobility

I think the factory is closed over the Christmas period but I have left an enquiry to include me on a Genny training course. I will update you when I hear back

Sunday 28 October 2018

Ireland Oct 2018

I had a road-trip to Ireland planned for a while with my car and wheels in the back however as my van came together in time and I got Jersey registered and plated, I changed the booking and I'm now in Ireland with the VW

Jersey to Ireland is quite a trip with 2 ferries and a substantial drive. It is not unusual to get caught out with the weather and I have had some previous epics. As expected the second ferry from Pembroke to Rosslare got cancelled due to the tail end of some storm so I had an  additional night where I stayed with my sister in Oxford. The following days ferry was on time and with only a bit of smashed glass

Sunday 21 October 2018

Project Van

I have long been excited about travelling with my wheels. In previous posts I have made various trips flying BA which work really well but I want the freedom to go off the beaten trail. I can use my current car to move my wheels about but it involves rolling it up ramps and takes up the entire back of the vehicle with the two back seats folded down. I have been planning a project for a while now to broader my horizons so let me introduce my new go anywhere, do anything van


VW's in Jersey are like gold dust. There is a big surfing and travelling community and a lot of tradesmen use Transporters. I have searched the various local classified pages as well as autotrader.uk but nothing grabbed me. I liked the idea of a basic automatic transmission van with a wheelchair lift but am used to parking sensors, Bluetooth phone connection and other options that are hard to live without nowadays

I came across one wheelchair adapted VW (WAV) for sale locally at a good price but it had a lowered floor and a massive unfolding ramp that took up most of the back of the van.
Van with ramp and lowered floor

Adapted vehicles seem to be jinxed and their value is lowered on the general market which says a lot about the perception of disability I think. You can get a WAV van, strip out the adaptions and have a well priced van. From the disabled customer perspective however new adapted vehicles can cost a fortune. Anything "special" is about ten times what you would expect to pay

Working on the principle that if you can't get 100% what you want, 90% is worth considering, I found a 2013 VW Caravelle for sale on an auction site in Preston. It was actually the executive model with leather seats, electric doors and all the trimmings. Unfortunately it has a rear unfolding lift taking up about 50cm at the very back of the van and was missing the front passenger seat being built for wheelchair upfront but hey? I had a UK contact that traded from auctions and so now I am the owner of a beautiful all-singing and dancing metallic toffee coloured spaceship of a van

My van with current fold out lift

My van currently has a fold out lift which works well but takes up loads of room in the back. My mission is to fit one of these neat cassette type lifts that are mounted underneath the van giving easy discreet access at the push of a button. Some are so small you need less than 1m access space at the side of the vehicle making it easy to use in variable parking situations. They also don't take up any space being mounted below the vehicle. I quizzed the Uk dealers but was told they were unable to sell there lifts outside mainland Britain because of the service liability. When I pretended to be a UK customer I was quoted over £10,000 to supply and fit with a 6 month waiting list. This is for a device I could pick-up second hand on eBay for £400

Planned cassette style lift mounted underneath the van

Thursday 18 October 2018


Hi - so my last post was in February 2018 at the end of 3 weeks in Antigua. So what has happened since?

We had some snow in early March that came out of the blue
Genny in the snow

Genny is completely dependant on full traction to keep vertical. I pay attention to wet leaves, seaweed on slipways and damp slopes with algae, so I had to play in the snow. I was delighted to discover my wheels were surprisingly stable. To be honest the snow was thin on the ground and where I was playing was rough terrain under the snow but apart from cold hands everything was fine

Due to Genny Mobility going into administration I thought it prudent to get what spares I could find. Apart from an issue with the Segway core unit that I got fixed at Segway UK (see previous post) - I haven't really had any serious issues. I had a flat tyre and I bent a wheel when my Genny fell from ramps whilst loading it into the car. I am good at making repairs and quite handy with electronics so I feel relatively confident to repair most issues

I have however put a lot of ware on the covers so I decided to order a new set in red and a pair of new wheels. Genny now resplendent in Ferrari red

Jersey is massively tidal with with a high to low water change of over 11m in 6 hours. There is also a number of offshore forts and towers worth a visit when the tide goes out. One day I took a trip to Elizabeth Castle across the beach and causeway

Genny on the beach with Elizabeth Castle in the picture
The end of another summer and there is now 3000 miles on the clock. The day I hit 3K I also got reversed into by white Porsh. The owner had just got the car and had all his attention on why his zillion pound machine had just cut out. Deciding to pull into a small car park to check it out he had no regard for me on his nearside. I managed to get well into the hedge and to limit the impact, I shouted and whacked the back till he stopped. I was so cross I must have made him feel terrible. He was very sorry and I threatened him with the cost of a respray. I think most of the damage was to his paintwork but I later discovered a small stuff on my wheel arch most of which polished out

Friday 23 February 2018

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Today I got a flat tyre

I have always been aware that a weakness on my go-anywhere chair would be a flat tyre

I have been trying to get to a little cove called Indian Creek. It sits between Shirley Heights and Mamora Bay and is hard to access down miles of rough dirt tracks. On the eastern headland is a complex of buildings that apparently belongs to Eric Clapton

Yesterday I got within 100m of the beach at Indian Creek. The last bit was a steep rough slope with water cut channels making it just too tricky to descend. I probably would have made it down but the assent would have been unlikely. What was running through my head throughout the miles of rough dirt track was ‘what do I do if get a flat tyre’?

I have insurance that covers breakdown in Europe but not for flat tyres. I don't even know how I would have directed breakdown rescue services to come and retrieve me out in the back of Indian Creek as there is nothing there except a flood plane and some fly tipping. 100m before the final descent into Indian Creek I chickened out

I made it back to civilisation in one piece with my wings firmly clipped but without having ended up as that mummy like corpse found days later in the back of nowhere. I survived with nothing worse than sunburnt knees

Today however I get the flat tyre. It came after a bit of local shopping and was caused by a bit of branch I picked up with a thorn piercing the tyre. I picked up the twig and I heard it as it went round and around with the tyre. Like a nail in your tyre I couldn't resist pulling it out when I shouldn't - still I made it home

With my tiny toolkit bought just for the occasion I removed the wheel. Quizzing my landlady I found I had 2 options for repair, one locally, the other 15 miles up the road, so scrounging a lift with my daughter we went in search of repair. What we found was a fantastic garage that just wouldn't exist other than in a third world country. They repaired my tubeless tyre with a bicycle repair patch glued to the inside of the tyre. They did the repair in half an hour and charged me £3 and what had been a major concern was sorted with relative ease

Life is good

Thursday 15 February 2018

Galleon beach from Shirley Heights. There are 2 beach resort complexes on Galleon with condominium style accommodation. The middle bit is open to us riff-raff. This is my daily hangout

Saturday 10 February 2018

Antigua 2018

I can never sleep when I have an early flight. Up at 5am I had a lift to the airport, check-in at 6 to watch the sunrise from 18,000 feet

I am tremendously reassured to see my wheels go up the conveyer and into the hold. I have only ever once had a lost bag and even then it showed up but should my chair not make it, with the issues of lithium batteries etc. it would seriously floor my plans

Gatwick is great and with my 1 bag checked right through I get time for porridge and coffee

Anyone traveling assisted knows there is only so much choice about the plan. I got held up waiting for my wheels to be signed off as safe and was one of the last to board but would have plenty of time sitting to follow so that was OK

I eat and drink everything I'm given whilst flying to pass the time watching the aeroplane slowly creep across the moving map

Antigua at last and my daughter has rented a van to collect me. It a 45 minute drive across the island to Falmouth where I have the ground floor of a seaside house. Time to get a quick swim in before spicy fresh fish and rum and ting

Monday 1 January 2018

Maltese Busses

There is an amount of information on the web about getting your wheels on the Maltese Busses HERE & HERE

All the public transport busses are able to accommodate wheelchairs with dipping suspension and manual ramps at the front door. There are a number of hop-on hop-off open topped private tours but they seemed to be without ramp access, I could be wrong

The official websites are slightly contradictory in that they give two definitions for allowed widths. There is also a form that you are directed to fill in that should be followed by a vehicle inspection at the Dept. For Transport in Malta. This should lead to the issue of a permit. I was unable to find the downloadable form and gave up with getting it sorted prior to travel

There are lots of bus routes in Malta and the services are well priced with a flat rate of €1.50 a journey. They are busy and weekly passes are available. I didn't bother looking for the illusive wheelchair permit
Download pdf map

In practice things did not go so smoothly. The aisle width was enough for my wheels at 63cm but would be tight for bigger chairs but the main issue was a lack of clear understandable practice by some drivers. I was lied to, refused admittance due to a child's buggy using the space and I was released onto a pavement island with no ramp exits. There were very cross drivers who refused to talk or even look at me, then again there were drivers very happy to help who didn't even charge for the ride

Information stickers were clearly displayed stating that spaces should be prioritised for chair users and that prams and buggies should move to make way. I am slightly uncomfortable getting buggies moved but always try to facilitate sharing space for the safety of all. On one bus they just didn't want me at all

We coped with the busses but it was generally stressful and I wouldn't rely on them getting you to the airport or somewhere requiring punctuality. If I lived in Malta and needed to travel with wheels on the Busses I would be running a campaign to get this sorted.

As just a visitor I would suggest being prepared. Go to the bus stop prior to a busy tourist stop so you will have more room to manoeuvre. Maybe queue on the road as that doesn't make the bus have to be tight to the pavement - you will be better seen but be warned people drive fast in Malta